The petition of residents of the constituency of Islwyn,
Declares that illegal off-road vehicles have caused and continue to cause irreparable damage to the environment of the Gwyddon Forestry in Abercan; further that the Gwyddon Forestry has, until recent years, been a safe haven for wildlife to flourish and for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders to enjoy the rights of way and footpaths afforded to them, but that the vehicles are now destroying the natural habitats of wildlife; further that residents have been threatened when confronting illegal vehicle-users and have concerns for their own safety when reporting these issues to the police; and further that the off-road vehicles are drive and ridden recklessly by uninsured and unlicensed individuals, making it inevitable that accidents will take place.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to engage with South Wales and Gwent Police to enforce the laws currently in place to prevent illegal activity and to encourage stronger actions against illegal off-road riders and drivers.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Chris Evans , Official Report, 1 December 2021; Vol. 704, c. 1016.]
Observations from the Minister for Crime and Policing (Kit Malthouse):
The Government believe that any form of antisocial, dangerous or inconsiderate behaviour involving vehicles, including that which involves illegal off-road vehicles, is a serious issue. The police can deal with antisocial behaviour (ASB) involving vehicles—e.g. off-road vehicles, driving across public open spaces—in the same way as they deal with any other ASB. Furthermore, the police have powers under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 to seize vehicles being driven illegally without a valid driving licence or insurance or in an antisocial manner respectively. Decisions on when to use these powers and how available resources are deployed are operational matters for Chief Constables in conjunction with local policing plans. They are best placed to understand how to meet the needs of local communities like the constituency of Islwyn.
The Government have provided the police, local authorities and other local agencies with a range of tools and powers that they can use to respond quickly and effectively to all forms of ASB through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. These powers are deliberately local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances of each case, including for nuisance involving vehicles. Incidents of ASB, including those involving off-road vehicles, should be reported to the neighbourhood policing team and the local authority responsible for the public land. When the problem is entrenched, it is for the local authority and community safety partnership to set a strategy and response that goes beyond reactive policing of this kind of repeat behaviour.
In January the Government updated the Home Office statutory guidance to support local agencies to make effective use of the powers given to them, which ensures a victim-centred approach to tackling ASB. In July the Beating Crime Plan laid out the Government’s plan for tackling crime and ASB, and making communities safer. The Government will continue to support the police to ensure they have the tools needed to enforce road traffic and ASB powers.