“We get to utilise the skills we’ve already developed through a hobby, into something to benefit to our communities.”

I’ve always had an interest in policing. Even when doing my apprenticeship to get me started in my career, I always wanted to do something in policing.

I’m a vehicle engineer, so I work on anything from cars to large HGVs. I love my day job so by being a Special I get the best of both worlds; I get to do something I enjoy doing, but also I get involved with policing in the hours that fit in best around my job and family.

When I first joined the Specials I started out in Dunstable, and then when I became independent I moved to Leighton Buzzard, and I’m now currently based in Biggleswade. I’ve been involved in a lot of community-focused initiatives including various school events, but I’ve done a bit of everything so it’s been nice and varied and also challenging at times.

I’m a keen biker, and I’ve been biking since I was allowed. My aspiration was always to be a police biker – I always thought that because of the amount of training they had to have, they were the elite and were at the level I wanted to reach.

Operation Meteor is the force’s dedicated response to disrupting dangerous and nuisance off-road biking. It’s been running for some time now, as nuisance bikers are a problem for some of our communities, and that’s why the force introduced Op Meteor.

I had previously mentioned putting Specials on motorbikes as I knew some of the other guys were also keen bikers like me, so when the opportunity came up for the Specials to join Op Meteor, I went for it. I wanted to see if I would be good enough, and utilise the skills I already have.

Four Specials so far have taken and passed the specialist training we needed for this role. Another four are due to take it soon. Because the eight of us are already bikers, we already have a level of knowledge about motorbikes and bike safety.

We’ve been trained by Northamptonshire Police, as they are the only force in the county that offer a bespoke course for off road/patrol riders. The guys up there who do the training are fantastic; in fact one of the trainers is a RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) Gold Instructor, so he’s the best of the best.

The course was over five days so I took some time off work to go, but it was well worth it. We got kitted up and learned about a variety of things to test our road knowledge. I’m pleased to say I passed the assessment and at the end of the course was presented with a certificate to confirm it.

I’ve been out a few times now with Meteor, and we’ve been well received. We’ve had some really positive comments from members of the public whose communities are affected by nuisance bikers, and who have seen what we’re trying to do.

Actually a few of the lads we’ve stopped have commented on our bikes, and have said it’s quite cool we’re out and about on them. Sometimes the bikes are a good ice breaker because it means you can find that common ground with someone; we’ve stopped bikers before who have then struck up a conversation with us about how long we’ve been riding for, and about our bikes. It also helps show that we are human beings too – we have the same interests as them.

We’re not here to pick on bikers, but instead we’ll try to educate them. A lot of them don’t wear any safety equipment so we’ll talk to them about that, and about why they can’t ride in certain places. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the landowner’s permission, you shouldn’t be riding on their land.

Equally though, off-road and nuisance bikers are a problem in Bedfordshire and have been for some time, and we are working for the benefit of our communities. So, if someone is seen riding in an unsociable manner or is breaking the law, we will deal with it accordingly.

We can deal with unsociable riding by issuing a Section 59 warning which covers the person and the vehicle. If we issue two of those to someone, we’ll then seize their bike.

If we have reason to believe someone is riding a stolen bike, we’ll also seize that and arrest them if required.

Our off-road bikes mean we can now get to areas we couldn’t previously when we were in cars, and disrupt activity. We don’t pursue bikers, but being out and about and being present is a good deterrent and is also an opportunity to gather intelligence.

The public’s help is hugely important to us. We can’t tackle this issue alone, so if anyone has information about off-road biking in their area, they can e-mail Op Meteor or call us on 101. We need to know where and when it happened, what the rider was wearing and what the bike looked like – and if you think you know who they are, where they live or where the bikes are kept please tell us that too.

This is a really exciting scheme for the Specials to be involved in, and it means we get to utilise the skills we’ve already developed through a hobby, into something that I hope will be of benefit to our communities. We will work hard to make this a success.

SC Lee Kirsop joined the Special Constabulary in 2008. He is now one of the Specials who have received specialist training to allow them to ride off road motorbikes, helping disrupt nuisance bike activity across the county.

To report information about off-road biking in your area, email: opmeteorinbox@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk. You can also call 101, or 999 if a crime is in action.

The next Special Constabulary Information Evening is at Police Heqadquarters in Kempston on Wednesday 6 June. To register, click here.


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