POLICE are asking Wigan parents to help create a safe and peaceful festive season by refusing to buy youngsters presents that could be used in anti-social behaviour.
This “unwish list” includes off-road bikes, replica and ball bearing guns, knives, alcohol and fireworks.
These are the ingredients in incidents which have led to thousands of complaints to the local police this year alone, and in many cases they have ended up being confiscated.
Top of the list of presents that cause annoyance in the community are off-road bikes that include mini-bikes, quad bikes, mini-motos, electric scooters, buzz boards and go-peds.
Police again reminded the public today that these vehicles can only be ridden on private land with the landowner’s permission; riding them anywhere else is illegal.
Riding a motorbike on roads requires the motorbike to be built for road use, have a valid MOT, registration documents and road tax.
The rider must be aged over 16, be adequately insured and wear an approved safety helmet. Many parents are not aware of these extra necessary costs when agreeing to buy the bikes, and do not realise that together they can be more than double the cost of the bikes.
Motorbikes being ridden illegally can be confiscated and destroyed.
In many instances they present a real danger to riders who are not adequately trained in their use or maintenance, and also to other road users and pedestrians. Huge public concern about anti-social behaviour with motorbikes in the last year have led to many police forces targeting their illegal use.
Ball bearing (BB) guns and imitation firearms are also on Santa’s list of potentially problem presents and can be confiscated and destroyed if they are reported to be causing alarm in the community.
Dozens of young people perceived to be engaging in threatening behaviour with imitation firearms and ball bearing guns have been reported to the police, who in some instances have no alternative but to call in police specialist firearms units.
Anti-social behaviour with replica and ball bearing guns has been, and will continue to be, targeted by the police.
Handling replica and ball bearing firearms can lead to an acceptance of gun culture, and has resulted in some tragic accidents involving young people in the last few years.
Carrying knives presents the same dangers and can lead to situations getting out of hand.
Possession of any kind of fireworks by anyone under 18 is an offence and can lead to anti-social behaviour and dangerous horse-play that can result in horrific injuries.
A good proportion of antisocial and violent behaviour is found to be alcohol linked.
Parents are being encouraged to ensure that if young people must have an alcoholic drink over the festive period, that they do this at home and to a responsible level.
Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: “Presents are traditionally given at this time of year to bring joy and happiness to young people and those around them.
“The wrong choice of presents, however, can have the opposite effect, cause a nuisance and make life miserable, and even dangerous for family, friends and the wider community.
“I would urge parents to look carefully at what young people are asking for, stand firm against pester power and refuse to let them have potentially anti-social and dangerous presents this Christmas.
“By everyone taking their responsibilities seriously we can all hopefully have a merry Christmas and a safe and peaceful New Year.”