Police patrol on water bikes

IT IS more Bangor than Baywatch. But in an effort to combat a growing number of "yob-related" injuries off the beaches, North Wales police are taking to the sea - on water bikes.

Following a series of injuries and fatalities involving water bikes in recent years, police have decided the only way they can control a small band of trouble-makers is to take to the waters. In an unprecedented move, a select team of three men and three women special constables have been trained to use a fleet of water bikes, provided by a manufacturer.

"This is a serious matter. Every year we have fatalities or serious injuries caused by a small number of people acting like yobs in the water with these bikes," said Chief Inspector Geraint Anwyl-Williams of North Wales Police.

"These officers have been trained to a high standard and they will be patrolling the waters around some of our known troublespots. We hope their presence will be enough to encourage people to use the machines more responsibly, but they will also be there to enforce the law." Water bikes are classified as "powered water craft" rather than "vessels". As such, there are few restrictions on who can use them or how they should be used. There is nothing to prevent the machines, which can travel at speeds of up to 80mph, being driven by someone who has a blood-alcohol level above the legal driving limit.

The special squad, which will wear wet-suits with police logos, will keep in touch with local council beach wardens with waterproof radios. The bikes will be kitted out in police colours when the officers start their patrols in spring.

Ch Insp Anwyl-Williams was swift to dispel any notion that his officers would be enjoying a Baywatch lifestyle. He said: "Let me assure you there is nothing remotely glamorous about being in the sea off North Wales on a cold April morning."

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