The inaugural Steering Clear of Cycle Crime Conference, hosted by BikeRegister in partnership with the British Transport Police, took place in Birmingham last Thursday (9th July).
Officers from over 30 police forces attended the one-day cycle crime forum with representatives from local councils, Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships and cycling organisations.
Over 380,000 bikes were stolen in England & Wales in 2013/14 and this year’s conference offered delegates the chance to engage on the topic of bike theft solutions, share best practice and examine successful operations to reduce cycle crime.
The programme featured latest bike crime statistics and details on the cost of cycle crime to police and councils. Delegates also found out more about the role that registration and marking of bikes has played in lowering bike theft, and how Point of Sale bike marking by retailers should be further encouraged.
Crime Reduction Expert Sgt Andy Gregory from West Midlands Police chaired the event, fielding a lively Q&A session that ended with a demo of BikeRegister’s new SMS Bike Checker facility that allows police to instantly find out whether a bike is stolen.
There were also presentations from a number of guest speakers including:
• T/DCI John Justice and PC Mark Farmer from BTP who spoke about the success of Operation Fiesta in catching prolific bike thieves. Bike theft from Paddington Station in London fell by a staggering 76% following the arrest of a gang that had been continually targeting the area. BikeRegister supplied witness statements that helped convict the bike thieves arrested as part of Operation Fiesta.
• Sgt Titus Halliwell, Roads & Transport Policing Command, Metropolitan Police, spoke about the successful ‘Lock Thieves Out’ campaign and other ways to promote cycle security. He announced that almost 200,000 bikes have been marked and registered using BikeRegister by the Met Police and that bike marking as an effective crime prevention tool is ongoing.
• PC Hazel Goss MBE spoke about cycle crime solutions in North Wales. She said that 800 bikes had been recovered by her team but that they have no way of knowing who they belong to as they aren’t registered. North Wales Police has enjoyed a 43% reduction in cycle crime since they started using BikeRegister in 2012.
• PC Dave Williamson and Partnership Liaison Officer Ian Martin from Durham Constabulary spoke about Operation Spoke, a great success story which has seen 11,700 bikes marked in the last 18 months, resulting in a 23% reduction in bike theft and £1 million saving in costs. PC Williamson says Durham Police and other forces should mark bikes on ‘an industrial scale’ to cut bike theft dramatically.
• Andrew Gilligan, London’s Cycling Commissioner was interviewed by BikeRegister MD James Brown about the challenges presented by cycle crime and government plans to reduce it. Mr Gilligan said ‘the most effective thing to do to prevent bike theft is to mark bikes’ and he encouraged police to ‘get behind one clear registration system.’
• James Brown, BikeRegister MD, reinforced the importance of a single national database and stated that BikeRegister is the UK’s leading online cycle database (with 378,559 bikes registered and 324,105 active members). He explained how the BikeRegister database is monitored for unusual criminal activity which has helped police to catch bike thieves in the UK.
Brown said: “We are delighted with the success of Steering Clear of Cycle Crime and are hugely grateful to all those police forces who attended. The intelligence and best practice shared meant that it was an extremely beneficial conference for all those present. Our aim was to help further reduce cycle crime across the UK, and we hope that goal will now be achieved.”