UNDERCOVER cops in Leigh will be riding round wasteland on 'scrambler' bikes in a crack-down on illegal off-road bikers.

Officers will patrol open land and former coal tips around the town to search out bikers who are scrambling without proper documentation.

In a joint operation with Wigan Council bosses, Leigh police are targeting the Westleigh area, Marshall Street playing fields and the open land around Bickershaw on weekends when most scrambling takes place.

It is an offence to ride motorcycles or any other vehicle off the highway without the owner's permission, police say.

Sgt Mark Bradley said: "The individuals riding the motorcycles often do not realise that riding a motorcycle on open land under some circumstances requires relevant documents such as insurance and MOT, not to mention a relevant driving licence.

"Many riders do not know the history of the motorcycle and may be riding a stolen motorcycle. If that is the case it could lead to the cycle being confiscated and the individual in possession of it being arrested on suspicion of theft. In some instances individuals are riding their motorcycles across roads and footpaths. This behaviour is extremely reckless and places members of the public at great danger, not to mention the riders themselves."

Police say anyone with information on stolen motorcycles or who see people riding on open land can ring crime stoppers on 0800 555 111 in confidence or ring Leigh police on 0161 872 5050.