ILLEGAL and anti-social use of off-road motorbikes and quad bikes in Newport is being targeted by police and other bodies - and the public is being urged to help out too.

Yesterday saw the launch of Operation Harley, a city-wide crackdown on an issue which is causing increasing concern to people across Newport, and to those tasked with policing it.

Dedicated evenings of action are being planned - in addition to regular patrols and responses to incidents - in areas of Newport where illegal use of off-road vehicles is a problem, along with a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and how to report it.

It follows a number of other initiatives to try to tackle the problem, including a scheme launched last year involving petrol stations, to prevent troublesome bikers refuelling.

The Argus last night accompanied officers from Gwent Police's Newport West Neighbourhood Policing Team, supported by city council Community Safety Wardens, patrolling Bettws, Maesglas and Duffryn, considered hotspots of illegal off-road vehicle use.

Newport City Council and housing providers are also involved in Operation Harley, and offenders are being warned that stiff penalties will follow if they are caught.

During last night's patrol, which involved a combination of marked and unmarked police vehicles, we watched as officers tracked down a biker in Duffryn who had been spotted by officers in one of the patrol vehicles, and who had been reported as causing problems earlier in the day.

His bike, a Kawasaki, was seized on Cormorant Way, and has been impounded, and the rider was arrested on suspicion of having committed a number of motoring offences.

Earlier yesterday, also as part of Operation Harley, officers from the Newport West Neighbouring Policing Team recovered a stolen motorcycle.

Operation Harley will run through the spring and summer and will also seek to highlight to potential offenders the damaging and dangerous nature of the illegal and anti-social use of off-road vehicles.

A major part of the operation will involve community outreach work, which began yesterday public events in the Tesco Extra store at Newport Retail Park, at Friar's Walk, and at the Asda stores in Pill and Duffryn.

At such events, members of the public will be able to meet their local police officers, get information about how to best report incidents of off-roading, and find out how police and communities can work together to stamp it out.

Anyone who sees instances of illegal or anti-social off-roading is asked to report it to Gwent Police as soon as possible, by direct messaging the Force Twitter or Facebook accounts, using the hashtag #OpHarley and quoting the reference 1900054085.

Photographs, videos or any other supporting information can also be included, such as a description of the person riding the bike and/or the vehicle, where it is being used, when it is being used - times of day or night, and days of the week, who is believed to own it, and where it is believed to be stored.

Members of the public can also e-mail, telephone 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 if they would prefer, quoting the same reference.

"To effectively tackle the issues around off-road bikes and vehicles, we need help from our communities to gather intelligence," said Sergeant Roland Giles, of Newport West's Neighbourhood Policing Team, who was involved in last night's patrol.

"We need to know who is using these bikes, where they are storing them and who their passengers are. By having this information, we can identify the riders and seize the bikes.

"We share the community's frustrations with these bikes and their riders, who often show no regard for their fellow road users, neighbours or pedestrians, not to mention their own safety.

"Together, we can make illegal and antisocial off-roading in Newport off-limits."

Newport City Council leader Councillor Debbie Wilcox, said illegal off-roading can have a huge effect on communities and residents, with noise, damage to land and property, and "the obvious dangers of such activities" among the consequences.

"It is important that the city's organisations work together and with the community to tackle the problem. Our community safety wardens will be helping raise awareness and identify offenders," she said.

Newport City Homes, which is also supporting Operation Harley, recently took legal action against a Bettws resident who refused to move several pit bikes from a housing block.

He is now subject to a court order, preventing him and his visitors from storing and working on bikes at the property, or using them locally.

"The storage of off-road bikes and petrol within communal areas and/or homes is a breach of tenancy and poses a serious risk to our residents," said a spokesman. "Meanwhile, riding off-road bikes on our land causes nuisance and annoyance to residents and is also a breach of tenancy.

"We will take action against any tenant who breaches their tenancy, including any person who is dealt with by police for illegal use or storage of off-road bikes, and we are fully supporting Operation Harley."

For more information about the laws related to off-roading, visit