A police force has launched Britain”s first patrols on a marked BMX BIKE – in a bid to ”bond” with hoodies.
Leicestershire Constabulary have been accused of ”making a mockery of policing” by using the blue and white bike, complete with force logos and stunt pegs.
Officers claim the bike, which is designed to be used for tricks and jumps, helps build a rapport with young people and could assist in pursuits through urban back streets.
But critics have blasted the force for trying to impress children at skate parks instead of fighting crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Roshn Mapara, 21, who has lived in Oadby, Leicester, all her life, said the police were pandering to local youths who had been making residents lives a misery.
She said: ”How on earth can a BMX bike help solve those problems? We have so many hoodies in the area, the last thing we need is an officer trying to look like them.
”Doing wheelies in a skate park to impress kids is hardly helping fight crime.
”There are a lot of problems in the area with local gangs. You see them hanging around on the roads with dogs and it’s really frightening.
”I’m often too scared to get out my car and walk into my house because there’s a gang of hoodies hanging around. I end up driving round and round until they’ve gone.
”The police just seem to patrol in the town centre but there are problems in the suburbs too. Initiatives like this just completely miss the point.”
The force has been using more conventional mountain bikes for years but say the BMX model is faster and easier to ride.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said the move was farcical.
He said: ”Putting an adult police officer on a child’s bike is unlikely to buy them any more credibility with local youths.
”Their uniform and badge should mark them out for respect, but this initiative risks making them a mockery at taxpayers’ expense.
”The force should focus future spending on substance not appearance.”
But PCSO Vince Preston, from Oadby and Wigston local policing unit, said BMX bikes were a good way to interact with ”youths in the skate park”.
He said: ”It makes you way more approachable than if you are on a bigger bike or on foot patrol as it is a talking point with youngsters.
”It really does help and breaks down barriers with youths in the skate park.
”At that age, they feel it is not cool to talk to the police but we have turned that around – as a BMX will always have a cool image.
”If I am talking to a group of youths in a park or enclosed area and if I know them, I will let them have a go on it – and it helps to build up trust and rapport with them.
”A BMX is also more mobile and easier to manoeuvre, and because the area we police has a lot of parks, alleys and side roads, it really helps to get around and can go quite quickly.
”This area has lots of alleyways which I know and can use, so often I can get to an incident at least as quickly as colleagues in a car.”
The #235 bike has been donated by Derby based company Moore Large and Co Ltd who hope the force will supply it to more officers in the future.
Adam Garner, brand manager from the company, said the model was one of the best all round BMX bikes.
He said: ”The bike will ride across the streets, over the ramps, on the skatepark or across the dirt jumps and singletrack through the woods.”