May Laidlaw: Family want more done to tackle off-road bikers" width="976" height="549">
May Laidlaw pictured with her husband, Tommy
Relatives of a great-grandmother who was killed by a teenager on a scrambler bike say "something must change".May Laidlaw, 78, was hit as she crossed a road in Liverpool in December. A 14-year-old boy was detained after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop.Mrs Laidlaw's family said they want police to have more powers to tackle people who use illegal scrambler bikes.A police chief said he believed some bikes were 'like a weapon'.Merseyside Police has arrested more than 100 people and seized 300 off-road bikes in its recent Operation Brookdale campaign, crushing scramblers found to be ridden illegally.
Ass Ch Con Ian Critchley said the situation is improving, though some offenders are still using the bikes "like a knife or a gun" with an equally tragic impact.But the Laidlaw family believe more can be done.Mrs Laidlaw's daughter Heather Bush said she feels much of the responsibility lies with parents.
Mrs Laidlaw's family say they have been left "devastated" by her death
"They're letting them go out on the road. They must know and they must be held responsible," she said."We want to show people what these kids are doing. Don't let them out on their own. Don't buy your kid a bike if you know that that they're going to do the wrong thing with them."Mrs Laidlaw's husband Tommy said: "If parents are buying these bikes, they should be charged as well."Police are required to observe speed limits and take extra care when pursuing off-road riders, for fear of putting them in further danger.But Mr Laidlaw has called on police forces to explore if greater powers are needed. The 78-year-old, who was married for 58 years, said: "They can chase them but they can't stop them. They can only follow them, so their hands are tied as much as anybody else's. They've got to change the law somehow."I don't know how they'll do it but they've got to do something. It's the people the riders hurt who suffer. I know they've seized a lot of the bikes, but they're still out on them."
Merseyside Police seized 300 off-road bikes in a recent campaign
Ass Ch Con Critchley said his officers can and will pursue offenders but "ultimately it's down to the individual officer to make the decision, lawfully, of what is proportionate".His force have used stinger devices to stop the bikes and helicopters to track offenders."We will not allow people to drive around like a pack of animals" but "we have to look after the safety of the public... of the individual on the bike and of our officers as well".He said "in the main, legislation is appropriate" but suggested "some changes" could be made."We have licensing around areas such as firearms and I believe that whilst there is law around on-road bikes, it's too easy to be able to purchase an off-road bike that in itself is a weapon. "On the other side, I also have concerns about protections of my officers and the law around them being able to make some really tough decisions."I think the law does not best protect our officers at that moment in time to make those decisions. That's something that we're talking to the National Policing League and our local MPs about."
Mrs Laidlaw's family said the great-grandmother was "loved by so many"
Sentencing the teenager at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Clement Goldstone QC told him he was "part of a group or club who have decided, at the age of 14, that you are above the law".His bike, which had been bought weeks earlier for "It's just fun to them. He knew he was doing wrong. If he wanted to ride, he should've been riding in a [legal off-road] place," she said."He's ruined everything about our family. I never went a day without speaking to my mum. She only lived over the road."They must know that one day they're going to hurt someone, or themselves."
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