MSPs issue call for tougher action on motorbike theft

James Wolffe has been sent a letter by city MSPs, asking him to investigate. Picture: Greg Macvean
James Wolffe has been sent a letter by city MSPs, asking him to investigate. Picture: Greg Macvean
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CITY MSPs from different parties have come together to press Scotland’s top law officer for tougher action on the problem of motorcycle crime blighting the Capital.

The politicians have signed a joint letter to Lord Advocate James Wolffe, asking him to investigate whether “more effective action” could be taken following a sharp rise in motorbike thefts, nuisance and dangerous joyriding.

Local people are becoming increasingly exasperated, cynical and disheartened

Alex Cole-Hamilton

Edinburgh Northern & Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson instigated the letter, which highlights how youngsters steal high-performance motorcycles, riding them along pavements, reportedly targeting domestic pets and scaring local people, as well as boasting of their exploits on social media.

An increase in young people stealing motorbikes fuelled a 22 per cent increase in vehicle thefts in the Capital between April and June this year.

Earlier this year a 14-year-old boy died in a road accident on a stolen motorbike.

And last month, the Evening News reported how residents living in Pilton and Muirhouse were too scared to leave their homes in fear of being run over by rogue teenagers riding stolen motorbikes.

Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said there had been around 30 arrests since June for motorcycle crime, but when cases reached court there was a “revolving door” which saw the same offenders appearing again and again.

“The judicial process is not being effective in the eyes of the community or the police,” he said.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said some youngsters were cautioned, others received community payback orders but there were few custodial sentences.

“Local people feel those responsible are not getting an appropriate sanction for what is terrorising their community.

“We have got to the situation in Muirhouse and North 
Edinburgh where we need to look at every option in terms of judicial disposal.”

The letter suggests, as an example, that criminal antisocial behaviour orders be considered, though it acknowledges it is for the courts to decide each case on an individual basis.

But Mr Cole-Hamilton said the MSPs also wanted to see new facilities and opportunities for young people in the area.

The letter praises police for their efforts in tackling motorcycle crime. But it adds: “Often the same individuals end up back in the community committing similar offences.

“There is a perception amongst some of our constituents that the court system isn’t providing suitable deterrence. Some in the community are becoming increasingly exasperated, cynical and disheartened by the perceived lack of judicial action.”

Daniel Johnson, Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said there had been several thefts of motorbikes from B&Bs.

“We need effective justice,” he said. “But there are all sorts of underlying issues and we need to tackle those as well.”

The letter was also signed by SNP MSPs Gordon MacDonald and Ash Denham and Labour’s Neil Findlay.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com