Policing Matters

This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 32.

As mentioned last issue, on 5 September the Police Authority held a public consultation day in the Grafton Centre, in a welcome effort to broaden consultation on policing in Cambridgeshire.

There was a questionnaire to be filled in. Two of the ten questions stood out in my mind. One asked respondents how much they agreed with the statement ‘I would rather have a community police officer on foot patrol than rapid police response with a police car’. What a leading question! The phrase ‘rapid police response’ tells people exactly what the author thought they ought to be saying – and even the senior officer I spoke to at the exhibition agreed that, actually, cycling is by far the quickest way of getting around Cambridge City!

Perhaps the most interesting question was ‘If you were in charge of Cambridge Police, what would you change?’ That’s easy. I’d make sure that ‘Driver Behaviour’ – or why not ‘Driver and Cyclist Behaviour’ – was included in the next Crime and Disorder Consultation in Cambridge City, and also East Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire and Fenland – and not just Huntingdonshire, as happened last time. (See Newsletter 23 for more on this process.)

Meanwhile, one very positive outcome of the first Cambridge City Crime and Disorder Consultation process, the Cycle Crime Task Group, has been successful in its bid for Home Office Funding for a sizeable project to reduce cycle theft in Cambridge City Centre. The post of ‘Project Manager – Cycle Theft’ has now been advertised, and hopefully it will be filled by the time you read this. I believe this is potentially an exciting project – real money and time is available, and the Campaign is involved (along with Cambridgeshire Constabulary, the City Council and both local universities).

Cambridgeshire Cycle Thefts bar chart

Another police-related note: Cambridgeshire Constabulary now has a web site: www.cambs.police.uk. There are currently three reports available:

  • Local Performance Plan 2000/2001
  • Chief Constable’s Annual Report 1999/2000
  • Police Authority Annual Report 1999/2000

The Chief Constable’s Annual Report includes recent annual cycle theft statistics for the County. Adding this to that of previous reports, we now have five years of cycle theft data.

I believe that all sets of data cover the same area. ‘Detected’ means ‘someone has been charged with the offence’, not necessarily convicted. Because of this, bikes which are returned by someone other than the offender are not included in detection statistics.

At least the actual number of bikes recorded stolen has dropped, although the scale of under-reporting is unknown. (The Cycle Theft Task Group is of course working with more detailed statistics, to identify trends and ‘hot-spots’.)

Clare Macrae