The national cycling database, BikeRegister, has hosted the sixth annual Cycle Crime Conference, in association with British Transport Police (BTP). The conference looked at the ways in which police, government, retailers and the security industry can work together to implement cycle crime solutions.
The conference is usually held at Tally Ho, the West Midlands Police training and conference centre in Birmingham, but took place virtually this year after being postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.
James Brown, BikeRegister Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be able to host the Cycle Crime Conference again this year. Following a particularly challenging year for all of us, this event offers an insight into the hard work that is still being done across the UK by our many partners to tackle bike crime and offers the chance for us all to share intelligence and best practice. Thank you to all who attended virtually this year and we look forward to welcoming you back next year in person.”
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Let’s Get Back on the Road’ with speakers highlighting the fact that although take up of cycling rose dramatically during the pandemic, with a 40% increase in retail sales, a rise in bike theft and criminality has followed.
Representatives from over 80 organisations registered for the event which was chaired by Andy Gregory, Former Police Sergeant from West Midlands Police. There were presentations from a number of guest speakers including Supt Mark Cleland, UK Lead for Cycle Crime at British Transport Police, and Will Norman, Walking & Cycling Commissioner for the Mayor of London.
Supt Cleland explained there is currently a problem in gaining accurate data on national bike theft. For example, while there were over 300,000 bike thefts reported in the crime survey across England & Wales, only 100,000 thefts were actually reported to police. He said: “We are not fully understanding the level of criminality nationally but there is some really good work going on with organisations like Opal (the national intelligence unit focused on acquisitive crime), insurance companies and BikeRegister to establish the bigger picture.”
A recent statistic from BikeRegister claims that a bike owner is 83% more likely to have their bike stolen if it is not BikeRegister marked.
Supt Cleland added: “Work is being done to encourage marking at Point of Manufacture as we are aware that retailers are being targeted before bikes are even sold to customers which is a big market for stolen property that we are trying to address. We are also interested in Point of Sale marking as we need to get to the tipping point where every bike being sold in the UK is registered.”
Will Norman, The London Mayor’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner said: “We also need to talk about Point of Service registration. Every time someone brings a bike in to be serviced we need to be offering up that registration, otherwise we are never going to get through that backlog. We need a more efficient and effective mechanism of doing this,
Sgt Jo Stephens from the Met Police spoke about a new Seized Bike Procedure being implemented by the force which involves a new system to book in seized bikes that are stored in police stations and involves the bike being registered by officers on BikeRegister.
She said: “Ultimately, we need to aim for every bike on the streets to be marked or registered. This way, every bike stopped by police will have an owner who can be contacted. Suspects will be dealt with correctly and bikes returned to owners.””
Additionally, James Brown gave an update on the latest news from BikeRegister during the conference, claiming that the database now contains over a million bike registrations, with around 300 new registrations a day.
The BikeRegister App, which is available to download for Android devices from Google Play is also available to retailers and members of the public to register bikes.
Retailers are playing a major part in helping police catch bike thieves by using the free BikeChecker facility which allows them, or anyone thinking of purchasing a second-hand bike, to check the frame number to make sure it is not listed as stolen on BikeRegister.
BikeRegister has also gone international, having launched successfully in Ireland and France. It is now a legal requirement in France to register all new bikes in a bid to tackle bike crime.