ACPO eats its words

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Police chiefs have made a humiliating climb-down over proposals to ban motorcycles, following pressure from MCN.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has admitted to MPs that basic claims backing up the proposal were untrue.

ACPO had told the commons transport committee motorcycles may not belong on UK roads but has now accepted: ‘Motorcycling is a viable and necessary part of our transport infra-structure.’

Crucially, the association had claimed many production motorcycles did over 200mph but has now admitted this was completely wrong.

ACPO has also climbed down over claims motorcyclists dodge road tax on a ‘massive scale’. It now admits: ‘The level of vehicle excise evasion on motorcycles is not significantly greater than that of other vehicles’

The association had originally recommended: ‘Production machines are readily available for use on our roads with top speeds in excess of 200mph. Motorcycles are seen in the UK to be, in the majority of instances, vehicles of choice rather than necessity and one might consider if our congested roads are any longer fit for purpose for these motorised toys.’

MCN highlighted ACPO’s false claims and challenged it to name a single production motorcycle capable of over 200mph. We also challenged the claim on tax evasion, pointing out Government research shows only 6.5% of motorcycles are untaxed.

A new letter from the association to the committee now admits: ‘ACPO has acknowledged that, without modification, production motorcycles in the UK are not capable of over 200mph, but are capable of speeds approaching that number.

‘The phrase “motorised toys” was intended to refer to a relatively small number of very high powered sports machines ridden by a minority of riders in an inconsiderate way, causing danger to themselves and other road users. This was not intended to describe the vast majority of motorcycles used for both leisure and business purposes.’

On tax evasion, the new letter states: ‘At the time of the submission, the available evidence suggested that vehicle evasion by motorcyclists was a significant issue. Research has since indicated that the level of vehicle excise evasion on motorcycles is not significantly greater than that of other vehicles.’

On the suggestion that bikes may not belong on the roads, the letter claims: ‘Discussions within ACPO surrounded off-road vehicles in particularly environmentally sensitive areas where noise and environmental damage have arisen as a concern to communities. This statement was not intended to suggest restrictions on the access of law-abiding road-using motorcyclists.’

David Griffin, Humberside deputy chief constable and ACPO’s lead on motorcycle safety, said the letter hoped to “clarify its position”. In fact it seems likely to leave the committee as confused as motorcyclists about what ACPO wants and why it made such extreme recommendations in the first place.

For more on this, get MCN, on sale December 10.

Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell