Police bosses who axed motorcycles on safety grounds had to call in another force’s bike unit to escort the Prime Minister.
Northumbria Police chiefs had claimed motorcycles were too dangerous for officers to use and that cars could do any job just as well.
But within days of disbanding the £200,000 fleet they decided bikes were needed after all for Gordon Brown’s visit - and were happy for officers from neighbouring Durham to risk riding them.
A Northumbria Police insider said Number 10 had insisted on a motorcycle escort for the Prime Minister’s May 27 visit to North Shields.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “It was agreed in advance that Durham Police would provide the escort for the whole of the visit.
"We no longer have a motorcycle section. Visits of this nature aren’t all that common and rather than having our own it makes sense to use Durham’s.
"If there were more then perhaps we would require our own section. But for someone like the Prime Minister it did warrant using motorcycles and that was why we worked with Durham.
“We cannot say at this stage if there was a request to use motorcycles from the Government and would need more time to examine this further,” he added.
Northumbria Chief Superintendent Neil Mackay had said axing the force’s Honda Pan Europeans and BMW R1200s would “maximise the safety of officers”.
He told Police Review magazine: “Everything that can be done with a bike can also be done with a car.”
For more on this, get MCN, on sale June 10.