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They behaved like angels

February 22, 2009

They behaved like angels

POLICE were out in force on Swindon’s streets at the weekend for one of the biggest operations the town has ever seen.

Leave was cancelled across the force as every available officer took to the streets in preparation for the arrival of a notorious motorcycle gang.

Preparing for the worst, police were out in force on Friday and Saturday night as the Hell’s Angels celebrated 20 years in the town.

But the event passed without incident.

As the bikers arrived from Friday afternoon, patrol cars were perched on the edge of town on each of the major roads.

Hells Angels made their way from across the country and beyond to celebrate the anniversary of the Swindon chapter, based in Gorse Hill.

Bikers wearing the distinctive badged leather jackets were seen sporting the colours of branches of the motorcycle club in Somerset, the north west and Hungary.

About 300 gang members made their way to the Moonrakers pub to celebrate with entertainment including specially hired exotic dancers.

One member of the gang, who did not want to be named, said: “The police have been really heavy handed with us, especially when we have been so accommodating to them.

“They were pulling people over and stopping them for no reason on their way into Swindon.”

As part of Operation Davidson, town centre enforcement was stepped up over fears trouble could erupt between football fans and the bikers and police evidence gatherers circled the town photographing and filming gang members and their vehicles.

PC Fiona Cuthbert, of the evidence gathering unit, drafted in from Trowbridge for the night, said: “We film for any changes in behaviour.

“We are used in riot situations to film crowds – that way we can see changes in behaviour early and prevent crime.

“And also, should any charges be brought, we have the evidence to back it up.”

PC Cuthbert and her colleague PC Nigel Bullimore fed the number plates of every vehicle in the Moonrakers car park into the police national computer.

They tailed a group of the bikers from the Tap and Barrel pub in Manchester Road as they made their way to the party.

And they also made regular sweeping searches around the Norman Road headquarters of the Hells Angels Nomads.

With so many officers waiting to jump into action, the force put resources to work, serving warrants, checking licensed premises and tackling anti-social behaviour.

Officers on the east Swindon neighbourhood policing teams made one of their biggest cocaine seizures on Friday night and Old Town officers checked for under-age drinkers in Wood Street.

Chief Inspector Simon Message, the officer in charge of the operation on Friday and Saturday night, said: “The whole weekend went off very quietly.

“We had about 50 officers on duty on Friday night, 100 Saturday and another 40 or so on Sunday.

“Everything went according to plan as far as we were concerned, it was very peaceful, a fairly standard weekend in Swindon.

“In fact crime-wise it was probably quieter than a normal Saturday night, but that is probably because there were so many police about.”

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