You’d think that CCTV would work best as a theft deterrent if there were some sense that the footage might actually be seen. A Brighton man whose bike was stolen in full view of police-controlled cameras was this week told that Sussex Police would not be reviewing the recordings as this was not a proportionate use of staff time.
The Argus reports that thieves first took the saddle from David Bailey’s £1,000 mountain bike so that he couldn’t ride it home and then returned that night to cut through the silver-category Kryptoflex chain made of 10mm braided steel cable with which he’d secured it to a bike rack.
The theft took place between 7pm on August 8 and 8am the next day in Old Steine, an area that is covered by police-controlled CCTV.
Bailey phoned 101 and was told that using staff time to view the footage was “not proportionate to the nature of the offence.”
Bailey offered to view the footage himself and was told to ask a nearby supermarket for its tapes.
“They asked me when it was stolen. I told them between 7pm and 8am. They said, ‘That period is too long for us to review the CCTV so we won’t be doing it’.
“So I said I’d review it but they said ‘no’. Someone is turning up with bolt cutters, in a van probably. This wasn’t an opportunistic crime, this was premeditated. I’m disappointed that the police reaction was, ‘We won’t be taking this any further’.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “CCTV covering the area was not checked because the use of staff time to search 12 hours of recordings was assessed in this case as not proportionate to the nature of the offence.”
The Argus said that the force included a link to a page on their website with information on how to prevent bike thefts, including the advice: “If you can, lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking it should be well lit and covered by CCTV.”
The force also asked people to continue to report crimes, “so that we can identify any trends and focus our operations accordingly”.
Our own Jack Sexty had a similar experience when his bike was stolen from outside Broadmead in Bristol in July in an area covered by the shopping centre’s CCTV.
The bike was taken at some point in a seven-hour window and he was told by Avon and Somerset Police that they could only review the footage if they knew the theft had taken place in a three-hour window.