Meadowbrook, an Isle of Wight Day Centre which collects bikes for distribution to Africa via Colchester-based charity Re~Cycle, has been told by Hampshire Constabulary that they can no longer have unwanted bikes recovered by the force – because the Police might get sued if someone gets hurt.
We spoke to Tony Harding at Meadowbrook, who told us, "We collect up the bikes and send them to Colchester in batches of about 120. Re-Cycle do some repair work there, and other bikes are shipped out to Africa where the charity employs people to fix them up. Then the bikes are given out in towns and villages for people to use. It's a brilliant scheme because it gives the people both work and transport."
"We used to get about 10-15 bikes a month from the Police on the island. They only have a small garage so they were more than happy to offload them to us. Everyone was happy until this edict came along."
And the reason for stopping the supply? Constabulary property manager Lucy Jenkins told the Isle of Wight County Press, "It would be irresponsible for Hampshire Constabulary to release bicycles to charities without first assuring they are safe for the public to use. Unfortunately, the force does not have the resources available to conduct the necessary checks on every bicycle in its possession."
"If the force released bicycles without appropriate checks and someone was injured due to the bicycle being unsafe, any compensation paid to that person by the force would come from the public purse, diverting funds from other policing areas."
Since the bikes aren't ridden until they get to Africa, it's difficult to see how there's going to be any comeback, and Meadowbrook seem to have been affected by a blanket ban put in place to protect the force which applies to all charities. However, despite explaining their situation the day centre hasn't been able to get the ban lifted, and the bikes will now be scrapped rather than given to the charity. We've approached the Constabulary for a response, we'll update this story if we get one.
For more information on Re~Cycle, visit http://www.re-cycle.org
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.