Police come under fire for not knowing location of bike racks as use of CCTV queried

West Mercia police have been criticised for failing to combat spiraling levels of bike theft in the cathedral city.

According to the newspaper Berrow’s Worcester Journal, there have been over 800 thefts of bicycle’s in the city over the last three years, but during the same period only 19 convictions have been secured in the courts.

The paper has also questioned whether adequate use of CCTV camera coverage is being made in tackling bike theft after one of its readers asked West Mercia Police which bike racks in Worcester benefited from CCTV cover and was told that the police had no record of where bike parking facilities were located in the city.

The reader, who declined to be named, said: “I started cycling into the city a couple of years ago in an attempt to reduce the amount I used my car. But after having my bike stolen I didn’t feel safe leaving it anywhere,” adding “I just wanted to find out if there were any safe areas to leave a bike but it appears there aren’t any. We are constantly being told to reduce our carbon footprint and leave the car at home but there is nowhere safe to leave a bike. I just don’t think the CCTV is working – 19 convictions in the past three years is proof of that.”

The reader also secured statistics under the Freedom of Information Act that showed there had been 157 bike thefts in the city during the first seven months of this year.

While that points towards an annual total somewhere in the region of the 300 thefts recorded last year, itself a reduction on 2007’s figure of 380, those levels are well above the 255 and 271 thefts that took place in, respectively, 2004 and 2005.

According to Inspector Janet Heritage of West Mercia Police, the 19 convictions ignored other measures taken by the police such as issuing cautions or final warnings and also did not record whether a conviction related to multiple thefts.

She added that besides taking standard security measures such as using a good quality lock and security marking to identify a bicycle, “leaving it in the most secure area possible when out and about such as a well lit, busy area with CCTV will also help to deter an opportunist thief.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Derek Prodger, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for transport and safe environment, was keen to stress that with rising numbers of Worcester residents taking to two wheels as an alternative to cars, “these criminal acts should not deter residents from using their bikes.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.