Chief superintendent Gerard Roche
GARDAI stopped a young man travelling on a scrambler with a two-year-old child sitting up on the back of the bike, public representatives heard at a recent meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC).
So far this year, gardaí in the Roxboro district have dealt with 16 different incidents relating to scramblers, Superintendent Eamonn O’Neill confirmed in response to a question put forward by Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins.
Speaking at the meeting, Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche reminded the attending TDs, senators and councillors that the majority of those using scramblers are minors who are “not buying the bikes for themselves.”
“Parents and guardians have to take some responsibility for this,” Chief Supt Roche said.
“People may not realise the dangers of scramblers. They are the new toy in town.”
Gardaí acknowledge that there has been an anti-social element associated with the bikes, with some drivers wearing hoods to escape detection, Supt O’Neill told the meeting.
“They can cause distress to residents and their noise can have an effect.”
“We are using the CCTV network that is available to us. We are looking at the current legislation as well.”
Gardaí are also looking into if supplying a minor with a mechanical vehicle like the quads and dirt bikes can be made an offence, he added.
While it is not illegal to drive a scrambler on private lands or green areas “to get onto green areas, they must travel through public areas and that’s where I see them breaking the law,” Supt O’Neill explained.
An investigation into a road road traffic collision in Rathbane back in March between a 4X4 and a motorbike at which the motorcyclist failed to stay at the scene is still ongoing, Supt O’Neill also confirmed.
An Garda Siochana is looking at approaching the issue from an educational point of view, instead of taking an enforcement approach, Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said.
This programme could possibly be run through the Garda youth diversion programmes and Limerick’s crime prevention officer is currently looking into it, he added.
Minors using these bikes might also be hoping it to “get a chase going” with a garda car, he said, adding that this could end up causing more damage.
“We have to balance those rights as well, instead of taking after someone.”
“These vehicles are designed for off-road use and we need to make people aware of that,” he added.
“People need to be made aware there is a place you can go in Limerick to use the bikes instead of going out to green areas.”
Meanwhile, garda figures show a decrease in crime figures across the district when comparing 2019 to the same period last year.
This includes a 13% decrease in property crime and a 7% decrease in crimes against the person.