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[29 AUG 00] COVENTRY AREA COORDINATION PRESS RELEASE
Pee-Wee Project Up For Award

A joint police and community operation to combat motorcycle crime is being considered for a prestigious national award.

Pee-wee motorbikeThe project involving the police, Coventry City Council's Action Against Crime Team and Area Co-ordination North-East, has virtually wiped out the misuse of mini-motorcycles labelled locally as 'Pee-Wees'.

Now it is in line for the prestigious CGU Award for achievements in crime reduction.

Bill Malley, Area Co-ordinator for Coventry North East said:

"We have worked closely with the other agencies in various ways to combat crime.

"We were successful in obtaining a substantial grant of 60,000 from the Home Office to pilot ways of reducing burglaries.

"A street in Wood End was chosen and after consultation with the residents a range of ideas was identified including the provision of fencing, gates, security lights and burglar alarms. This work is now nearing completion."

"About 300,000 is also being spent over the next three years on our youth opportunities programme. This will provide positive investment in about 50 young people in the area involving them in constructive activities to further their life chances thereby reducing the risk of them becoming involved in offending.

"In addition 15,000 has been injected into our Summer Splash Scheme for fun activities for children in Coventry north east."

The 'Pee-Wee' problem escalated in the Wood End and Bell Green areas, which historically had suffered from youths recklessly riding off-road motorcycles, many of them stolen, through housing estates with no regard for local residents.

Over the last two years small motorcycles, originally intended as children's toys and therefore outside normal traffic laws, were increasingly being misused.

The law governing the use of such small and manoeuvrable bikes is unclear, with riders having no need of a driving licence or insurance. They can also be ridden on the pavement without fear of prosecution.

In addition to being used to commit crime, younger riders saw older youths as role models and began to copy their reckless actions.

This culminated in a serious car accident that left a nine-year-old 'Pee-Wee' rider seriously injured.

But the problem has been resolved by education and police enforcement and it is hoped this will be reinforced by new Government legislation. A poster campaign illustrating the dangers of off-road riding, particularly on 'Pee-Wees', was launched in March and the city council's Action Against Crime team purchased three 400cc off-road motor cycles for police use.

Councillor Tom White, lead member (Community Wellbeing) said:

"The bikes have proved a worthwhile investment. People feel much safer now and the off-road patrol has been an outstanding success with six arrests and ten stolen motorcycles worth 9,000 being recovered in the last two months."

Nerissa Jones, Vicar of St Chad's Church, Wood End has applauded the project. She said:

"This time last year it was absolutely hell. They were riding five abreast down the street, whizzing down entries and riding without lights after dark. I also saw adults ferrying small children and I told them I did not want to conduct funerals for babies."
 

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CWN / Coventry City Council / Area Coordination / 29 Aug 00
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