BARNSLEY villages blighted by illegal off-road bikes are set to receive more patrols from South Yorkshire Police’s own two-wheeled unit after a rise in complaints during the lockdown period, the Chronicle can reveal.

Given the continuing scale of complaints issued by residents, police based at the town’s neighbourhood hubs have been tasked with identifying worst-hit areas in their local patches which will pave the way for more action days.

Royston in particular has come under the spotlight in recent weeks, which has seen yobs make use of its close links with West Yorkshire - where police force boundaries change - via farmers’ fields.

A spokesman from South Yorkshire Police said: “If any illegal bike is stopped by our team they will be dealt with robustly - this could result in the bike being seized and the rider being reported for offences.”

Although Barnsley now has trained riders in its ranks, they have been reliant on drafting other off-road officers into the district in order to carry out full operations in the past.

However, police have increased the team’s capacity which will provide up to eight riders in future, allowing the opportunity to mount increasingly effective operations or to split resources.

Inspector Craig Clifton said: “We are committed to tackling the problem that off-road bikes can pose to our communities.

“The team are all bikers themselves and share the passion for riding their bikes, but this has to be done in a safe manner and on designated and legal tracks.

“We are focusing our efforts on those who are posing a risk to our communities through dangerous driving or using their vehicles to commit crimes.

“We are also working with riders to ensure they understand the law and regulations that are in place. It is as much about education as enforcement.”

Local officers hope that will increase as a result of the team’s expansion and Sergeant Richard Wilson, who is based in Cudworth, told the Chronicle that Barnsley’s better placed to cope than it has been in recent years.

“We’re not powerless and we have more options at our disposal now, helped by the team,” he added. “There’s been success with the seizing of bikes and a lot of good work done, particularly on the West Yorkshire border, as it’s an exposed area on the Barnsley corridor.”

Since last year, police have been providing daily coverage with the help of two Barnsley Council drones in communities such as Brierley, an area hit hard due to its bordering countryside which separates West and South Yorkshire Police’s patches.

“The location of many hotspots often means the bikers cross over into West Yorkshire, so we’re working alongside officers in border communities,” Sgt Wilson said.

“We have not had the coverage we would have liked in the past but we’re denting the problem and increasing the flow of information between the two forces, and residents affected.

“We need to encourage people to continue to report bikers, albeit without a risk to them, but photos, videos and descriptions of where they’re riding, where they’re being stored and the colour schemes of bikes help us a lot.

“We completely understand just how problematic, and dangerous, off-road bikers have been in Barnsley but residents can be assured that South Yorkshire Police are taking this very seriously given just how many complaints we receive.”