POLICE in Swindon have a new answer to tackling crime in the town – the humble bike.

PCs Mike Porter and Frank Key from Swindon South Police’s community team have been patrolling on two wheels.

They explained that the move is to help them reach more secluded areas where wrongdoing is known to take place. “This is all about high-visibility policing in the community,” PC Porter said.

“Being on bikes allows us to access areas where criminal activity is likely to take place and get to locations we couldn’t otherwise get to in a car, for example down a footpath or to places where we know crime is active, like back streets and parks.

As part of the morning patrols the officers visit places like Cavendish Square, Manchester Road, Broadgreen and Old Town.

“The bikes also give us the element of surprise,” said PC Porter. “They’re much quieter than a car and there are no lights.

“We can actually respond faster to something we come across,” added PC Key. “It will take about 10 seconds to stop a car safely and get out, whereas on a bike you can stop and detain a suspect there and then when you come upon something and get all the evidence secured much quicker.”

Each cycling patrol is carefully planned in advance to target certain areas based on former intelligence and consultations with residents. “We know the public like to see a police presence out and about, and this is part of it,” said PC Porter.

“If they see us out and about in the places they have told us about, it encourages people to keep reporting things because they know we are listening and doing something about it,” added PC Key.

“We’ve had a great response this morning from the local community. It’s always nice when people say good morning,” he said.

The officers are also able to respond to emergency calls immediately. “We had a call today from a distressed female who was with a male who was being abusive,” said PC Porter.

“When we got there the male was actually wanted on a warrant and we were able to arrest him on the spot. So not a bad response, and all down to the bike being able to go down an alley way where cars couldn’t,” he added.

The cycling patrols may well be seen more regularly in the future.

“It’s all about people knowing we’re out there and making them less comfortable to be brazen with their criminal activity,” said PC Porter.