The fifth annual Cycle Crime Conference, hosted by BikeRegister, the national cycle database, in association with British Transport Police (BTP), took place in Birmingham on 25th June.
Officers from 28 police forces registered for this one-day cycle crime event, along with partners from the cycling, retail and security industries. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Let’s Pedal Faster’ with speakers highlighting ways in which they are pushing the fight against bike crime forward so that it gathers more momentum.
Around 140 delegates got the chance to hear about successful operations to reduce cycle theft and share best practice on cycle crime solutions. Andy Gregory, former police sergeant from West Midlands Police, chaired the event, which also featured the 2019 Cycle Crime Awards ceremony.
There were presentations from a number of guest speakers including Supt Mark Cleland, the national bike crime lead at BTP, who encouraged everyone to #BeMoreJohnMcClane when tackling cycle crime. Cleland said bikes need to be registered in order for police to be able to return them to their owners.
“BikeRegister is the premier database and all bikes need to be registered to aid recovery of stolen bikes. Point of sale bike marking is the way forward,” said Cleland. He also revealed that 29% of bike thefts are from residential premises including garages and sheds. Dr Kevin Golding Williams from the Department for Transport spoke about the Cycling and Walking Investment strategy and the opportunities and challenges it presents for cycle security.
Jon Harris from West Midlands Trains spoke about a new approach to station travel planning which embraces all aspects of cycling. ‘Stations as Places’ looks at the ‘whole’ station and its place in the community and how to make it safer for travellers. It is encouraging the use of bike marking pop-ups to help reduce bike crime at stations such as Bromsgrove, which have received major overhauls.
A video interview organised by BikeRegister and BTP, with a convicted bike thief, gave insight into the sort of bikes that are sought after by criminals, with the overriding message being that bikes should be locked securely with D locks, otherwise they will become a certain bike theft statistic.
‘Prevention is better than cure’, was the key message from Tom Harris at the Better Bankside BID (Business Improvement District). Harris and his team have introduced a range of target hardening measures including funded police officers, community wardens, a secure cycle park and BikeRegister bike marking to reduce bike theft on Bankside, south-east London. He said: “BikeRegister’s national database is invaluable to us and has helped us recover many stolen bikes and led to 14 arrests of bike thieves in our area alone.”
Other speakers included Julia Watson from West Mercia Constabulary’s Opal unit who represented the National Intelligence team for Serious Organised Acquisitive Crime and Avon and Somerset Police who are marking 1,000 bikes a month in an initiative which is co-funded by North Somerset Council. Joe Mansfield, the council’s sustainable travel officer, encouraged police to contact their local councils to find out what funding is available for bike marking events, and Police Scotland whose Operation Screening has demonstrated what can be achieved with limited police resources, utilising both preventative and proactive investigative measures to tackle cycle crime in Edinburgh.
James Brown, BikeRegister MD, gave an update on the latest news from BikeRegister, which included the fact that the database now contains nearly 845,000 bike registrations. He also spoke about new technology being offered by BikeRegister, including details of the police app that 23 police forces have now adopted, which makes the registration of bikes easier at bike marking events and enables recovered and stolen bikes to be checked by officers on the spot on police mobile devices.
Brown also presented the 2019 Cycle Crime Awards, which paid tribute to the work carried out by police forces and partners using BikeRegister to fight bike crime.
2019 Cycle Crime Awards winners:
– Lee Honey, Metropolitan Police, for being BikeRegister’s most ‘active’ user. Honey has run 2,525 searches through the BikeRegister database – which is more than double the next officer in the ranking.
– Rob Forder, British Transport Police, for his partnership work within the Community Cycle Team. Forder has helped organise more than 350 bike marking events at train stations, which has resulted in more than 4,700 bikes being added to the BikeRegister database.
– Avon and Somerset Police, for the expansion of cycle crime prevention and for running best practice marking events.
– This year’s BTP award went to Belinda Hopkins, crime prevention and reduction adviser, University of Oxford. Hopkins has worked to tackle bike crime across the University estate and has introduced BikeRegister as the recommended bike marking scheme.
Brown concluded: “The National Cycle Crime Conference is our way of helping police from across the UK to speak with each other, which means that they are sharing intelligence, and becoming even more effective at targeting bike thieves and organised criminal gangs across the UK. Thank you to all who attended, and congratulations to the extremely worthy winners of the Cycle Crime Awards this year.”