Police are clamping down on motorcyclists taking part in Halloween ride-out events which “frighten and intimidate” Londoners and tourists.
Over the past few years, the events have become increasingly popular among young moped and motorbike users, but police say they cause disruption and anti-social behaviour.
Those who take part are often seen driving recklessly, on the wrong side of the road, through red lights and across pavements; with many riders using stolen motorcycles.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have a detailed planned operation to deal with any disruption caused by anti-social behaviour carried out by large groups of motorcyclists gathering in several locations across London to ride together over the Halloween period.
The police say that those who take part are linked to the group ‘UK Bike Life’ which is also growing in Essex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, Hertford and Thames Valley.
The Met Police are working with relevant forces in those areas and last year the collaborative operation resulted in over 30 arrests.
Superintendent Louise Puddefoot from Met Operations said: “These groups do not have any consideration for other road users, and put themselves and members of the public at risk by driving recklessly in large numbers.
“They frighten and intimidate Londoners and tourists, and have caused considerable damage to local businesses.
“We know that some people may see the event advertised and think they are joining like-minded enthusiasts on a lawful ride, within legal parameters. This is not the case. These groups are not in keeping with the law, they ignore the rules of the road and drive ruthlessly, carrying out stunts on the roads and pavements.
“Officers will be out across London throughout the Halloween period and will deploy a number of police tactics to prevent riders from driving dangerously. We intend to prevent disorder and crime caused by riders and we will be dealing robustly with offenders and making arrests where appropriate.”
Essex Police are taking part in the operation and have already issued warnings to individuals they believe are planning to take part.
Last year pockets of between 75 and 300 bikes and quadbikes gathered at various locations in the county including Brentwood and Basildon.
There were reports of reckless riding, criminal damage, riders on pavements, and fire extinguishers being let off at members of the public.
Chief Superintendent Andy Mariner said: “We are aware that a ride out is planned again for this Halloween period and our message is clear – they are not welcome in Essex.
“Last year, some individuals caused criminal damage to businesses, they deliberately rode dangerously on major roads and intimidated members of the public with anti-social behaviour.”
He said officers used a range of tactics, including stinger devices and seizing vehicles, to tackle the problem.
A Youtube video posted by user WH05 DAT and entitled “Halloween Ride Out 2017 – BIKELIFE VS POLICE” shows a group of motorcyclists and quad bike riders wearing masks and evading police blocks while carrying out wheelies and other tricks.
A blog on the Story Institute website said that the individuals who take part in Halloween ride outs are not as sinister as the police make them out to be, and that the movement is a chance for young disaffected males to get together and show off their bike skills.
The blog reads: “The UK Bikelife movement is young, but in the past two years its growth has been dramatic. Quickly becoming a fully-formed subculture and underground sport scene with hundreds of riders in dozens of groups across London and further afield.
“The primary aim of the Bikelife scene is to bring young bikers together to ride, perform tricks and share videos and photos to a large and engaged social media following.
“Riders in the scene are predominantly young disaffected males from working class backgrounds who use riding as a means of escape from the harsh realities of daily life.”