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Question 2 - we asked:
Cycle theft is the number one crime in Cambridge City (with a total estimated cost to victims of at least £1.5 million) and has a significant impact on residents across the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region. How will you support efforts to tackle this issue?
We asked this question:
3 of the 4 candidates (75%) who were asked this question responded as below.
Those candidate(s) which were elected are highlighted.
My family has been the victim of bike theft, two stolen in the past year from our local railway station. The bikes were locked and left unattended at the station cycle racks.
The impact of this crime should not be underestimated. In my case, both bikes belonged to my son, a sixth form student. Obviously there is the financial impact; around £200 each in my case, and this was his only method of transport, going to college and part time job, to the gym and meeting friends.
But there is something else – the bikes were given as birthday gifts, they had sentimental value, only to be stolen by callous criminals.
Bike theft has sadly increased in recent years and is estimated to cost our county at least £1.5 million a year*. Furthermore, our county is one of the worst impacted by this crime. The bike crime rates are so high owing in part to the significant amount of crimes in Cambridge City, but as in my case, it is all too prevalent everywhere and this is unacceptable.
As an ex police officer having worked in Cambridge City, and many years ago targeted bike thieves, I am well aware of the motivations to steal bikes. Yes some may be opportunists, but most is organised criminality often carried out to fuel the drugs trade with ‘handlers’ making significant ill-gotten gains. It is a business and a business we need to bust.
I am a strong advocate for preventing crime from happening in the first place, and there is much that can be done to protect your property. In my case we should have had better locks, the cycle park could have been more secure, the bikes should have been registered on the national database*and of course reported to the police. In addition, the root causes of criminals entering into a life of crime needs to be addressed along with rehabilitation of offenders.
However, I am also a strong advocate of robust law enforcement. Those who choose to steal bikes and make profit from these crimes need to fear being caught and punishments need to act as a deterrent. The police and other partners need to be supported and target bike crime where this is a priority for local communities, particularly the ‘handlers’ with courts handing out significant sentences and confiscating their illicit assets. In addition I fully support the use of Criminal Behaviours Orders when thieves are caught, preventing them from entering certain areas and having to prove a bike is theirs.
I believe most of us accept the police must prioritise the most harmful crime types. Furthermore the police can not ‘arrest there way’ out of the scourge of bike theft. A coherent joined up approach is needed with strong leadership to cut bike theft.
1. Making resources available to the Chief Constable to recruit many more frontline/neighbourhood police officers and detectives
Cycle theft is of huge concern in Cambridge city but also all over the county and in Peterborough also. Cycle crime is an acquisitive crime, and it can often lead to further serious crimes including drug dealing.
An audit of the city’s cycle stands, details of condition noted. Data overlaid for cycle crime hotspots and then fed into the GCP work for locations for secure cycle areas. Info collected such as potential for CCTV increased lighting and other interventions to stop an area being a hot spot.
The plan will be to have a city council standard of cycle stand.
Working with Camcycle I managed to change the way that cycle crime is reported via the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough police website.
There is an issue with police capacity being able to view all recorded cycle crime theft CCTV. In working closely with CamCycle we have come up with a solution of using volunteers trained and screened by the police to be able to pull data from city council CCTV hub of cycle thefts where we have the data of date and time.
I have written to those shops that are known to sell poor quality locks asking them to work with us on a project that declares the standard of locks on sale according to how strong they are so the public can make an informed choice.
The issue of a good standard of lock is one that is often down to cost, and so I have already started a campaign of “asks” asking for stores, companies, public to donate good quality locks to our food hubs for those that need them most and has already had some responses.
I am working in Partnership with CamCycle on others on advertising how to correctly lock your bike through leaflets and other media.
I have written also written to companies such as Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree asking them to make it a policy that anyone who sells a second hand bike MUST show the bike frame number to allow people to check if the bike has been stolen. This will also encourage the public to register their bikes and dissuade from selling stolen bikes in this way. Gumtree has already responded positively, and I have a meeting planned with them in the next few months.
There is work to integrate cycle point CCTV with our city council CCTV so it can be monitored live by our operatives. This work is important as our operatives will be able to follow on screen potential thieves.
I have also put out an ask to those companies that collect abandoned bikes to retain some of them for them county to be used at Food hubs for those that need them.
The police have had some great successes in tackling proficient cycle thieves and that work is still ongoing. By working together with our communities and partners we can achieve so much more.”
Cycle crime is a serious problem in Cambridge and it seems that the local force has not always given it the priority that the people of Cambridge would like.
I will make sure that what is nationally acknowledged as Serious Organised Acquisitive Crime (SOAC) is given the proper priority. Cycle theft can have a significant effect on the victim - not just in the cost of replacement but also interfering with life such as going to work, collecting children from school or socialising. It is also a barrier to cycle use more generally.
To reduce cycle theft, I will draw from the National Police Chiefs' Council Cycle Safety and Security Plan in four areas:
Enforcement: We must link up with other forces and Operation Opal - the National intelligence Sharing Unit for SOAC - to share best practice and intelligence and reducing the onward routes for the sale of cycles.
Prevention: I would campaign for a single mandatory registration scheme which can then be used to require resale sites and dealers to check ownership and not resell bikes recorded as stolen.
Environment: I would work with landowners to relocate racks into areas with more footfall and more visible from, e.g. a reception area. I would also ensure that CCTV, where available, is used properly.
Education: We must help cyclists choose the better locks and locations.
And, overall, put real effort into cycle crime.
Camcycle is a non-partisan body. All candidates are given an equal opportunity to submit their views. Information published by Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign), The Bike Depot, 140 Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0DL.