Thetford’s policing team has become one the first in the country to add a new weapon to its crime-fighting arsenal - two quadbikes.
Norfolk Police has introduced the off-road vehicles to use in Thetford Forest, to catch people using routes through the woodland, called ‘fire rides’, to escape the town or recover stolen goods from the forest.
The bikes are also used to discourage antisocial behaviour on Thetford’s estates and in missing persons searches, and provide support to the police helicopter and dog units.
Seargent Marcus Wall, based at Thetford, said Norfolk Police is looking to expand the use of quadbikes through the county.
The quadbikes are generally used as a pair and already cover a wide area, from north west Suffolk to Weeting and Mundford, as well as woodland areas accessible by off-road tracks.
“The bikes are proving really worthwhile,” said Sgt Wall. “Here we have forest everywhere, which is where they are predominantly designed to be used.
“You cannot use a four by four around those areas and a helicopter cannot see people through the trees.”
In the six months the station has had the quadbikes Sgt Wall said they have been received well by the general public, and have also prompted a reduction in crime.
“Antisocial motorbike use has been a priority for us, and since we’ve had the bikes antisocial behaviour has dropped immeasureably,” he said.
Riders PSCO Sharon Caws and Pc Andy Menarry received special training from the Mininstry of Defence Police to use the quadbikes.
“They are not the easiest things to ride and there is potential for serious injury,” said Pc Menarry.
“It is an additional resource which is fitting in well here. We’ve been provided with a fantastic tool and top of the range safety equipment.”
PSCO Caws said: “The bikes can cover great distances in forest areas. You can literally get between the trees off the beaten track.”
PSCO Caws and PC Menarry also believe the bikes open up communications between the public and the police.
“The quads encourage people to engage with us and talk to us about other things,” said Pc Menarry.
PSCO Caws added: “They help younger people feel more comfortable talking to us.”