Unauthorised ride outs - injunction granted

A town-wide injunction is in force in Harlow for the next 10 months, which bans individuals from causing a nuisance by taking part in unauthorised ride outs involving motorbikes and motor vehicles.

On 19 May 2016, Harlow Council was successfully granted the injunction by the County Court at Chelmsford. The town-wide injunction, which is believed to be the first of its kind, runs until 31 March 2017.

The injunction bans groups of two or more people from taking part in unauthorised ride outs between 10am and 12midnight on any public land or public highway in Harlow. It covers ride outs involving both motorcycles and motor vehicles. Anyone breaking the injunction would be in contempt of court and may be sent to prison.

The purpose of the injunction is not and has never been about stopping those responsible riders or drivers from enjoying using their vehicles in a lawful manner.

Harlow Council and Essex Police have made it clear that anyone riding bikes lawfully in Harlow on the road to either meet up with friends, including driving in a convoy; drive through the town; learn to ride or teach others, or take part in a charity event, will not be served with the injunction. This is the same for anyone driving a motor vehicle.

If an event is to be organised for charity or any other occasion, which would mean a significant number of people attending, then the Council via contact@harlow.gov.uk and Police should be informed so arrangements can be made to support the event.

The main aim of the injunction was to stop an unauthorised ride out event taking place on Saturday 21 May 2016, which would have attracted hundreds of young people on motorbikes and bystanders. Following a previous event held, both the Council and the Police had serious concerns about the danger this event would pose to the public, to those taking part and the wider impact on the community. Despite the Council and Police's attempts to work with and talk to the organisers there was no response. As a result of the injunction this event did not go ahead.

The injunction also aims to target a growing problem of groups of people creating a nuisance by riding bikes illegally on the streets, public highways and on green spaces in Harlow. Not only do these unauthorised ride outs cause nuisance to communities, it also puts the safety of the wider public and the riders at serious risk. Concerns are being raised by Harlow residents about persistent unauthorised gatherings causing a nuisance and antisocial behaviour, and the Council, supported by the Police, had to listen and act.

The injunction will only be served and enforced on people who are gathering and causing a nuisance and carrying out antisocial behaviour.

The injunction forbids the following activities as part of an unauthorised ride out:

  • Excessive noise.
  • Danger to other road users including pedestrians.
  • Damage or risk of damage to private property.
  • Any nuisance to other persons not participating in the unauthorised ride out.
  • Driving at excess speed.
  • Driving in convoy.
  • Racing another motor vehicle.
  • Performing stunts.
  • Sounding horns.
  • Playing loud music. 
  • Dropping litter. 
  • Shouting or swearing at, or abusing, threatening or otherwise intimidating another person.

The injunction is one of a number of measures the Council and Police have in place to deal with a specific problem currently being experienced in Harlow. The injunction does not distract from the Police's existing powers.

This year the Essex Police have received 121 calls about motorbikes, quad bikes, pit bikes and mopeds being ridden illegally or in an antisocial manner in Harlow between March and May. This compares to 74 during the same time last year.

The Council and the Police have written to all parents of year 11 pupils in the town and attended school assemblies. The Police are also patrolling hotspot areas in the town, seizing bikes being ridden illegally and issuing warning notices under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002. We are also working with petrol stations to crack down on petrol being sold to under-16s and are distributing leaflets to young people.