A Conservative MP is querying the service victims of crime, including bike theft, receive from police after he had to wait more than half an hour on the non-emergency number 101 to report that his own bike had been stolen – but has been ridiculed on social media given the cuts to police funding his own party has imposed over the past decade.
In a Facebook post, Richard Graham, who has been member of parliament for Gloucester since 2010, also asked whether he may have received preferential treatment due to his position and whether other bike theft victims are treated in the same way.
He is offering a £15 reward for the return of his Trek bike, stolen from outside his constituency office on College Street on Friday 14 August.
In the post, published last Wednesday, the 62-year-old also said that it was a week before he received a crime reference number following the theft of the bike, which had cost him £100.
He said that he had “tied up” the bike to a lamp post outside the office at around 5.15pm on the evening in question, and chatted to two of Gloucester’s City Protection Officers (CPOs) – employed by the council for civil enforcement – as he did so.
Discovering when he left the office at 8pm that the bike had gone, he began walking home and says he bumped into the pair again, who advised him to call 101, as did two other CPOs in a van.
“I rang for about 10 minutes, then took an incoming call and tried again,” he said. “33 minutes later I got through to a helpful woman who gave me an incident number and suggested I look on Facebook Market in case the bike was there.
“Exactly a week later I got a text from the Police with a crime number.
“How does this stack up?” he asked. “In many ways pretty well. Partly because the theft was in the city centre early on a Fri eve, CPOs and PCSOs were physically close to the scene of the crime: and I had the advantage of knowing them. They [could] not have been more helpful (and the former had witnessed me tying up the bike 3 hours earlier).
“Would everyone get the same service? I had several messages (and saw others on FB) from Abbeymead earlier this year from constituents who claimed the police had said they were too busy to log (or do anything about) bike thefts – and I suspect these bikes were a lot more valuable than mine (at least in cash terms). I can’t be sure, and welcome short comments.
“Having a bike stolen is not the end of the world and although I’ve only had Trek for a few months, Cherry & White [his other bike] hasn’t been stolen in 13 years so I don’t buy the line that every bike gets instantly stolen in Gloucester.”
The MP said that he was “left wondering a few things,” namely:
1. How long is reasonable to wait when dialling 101? Is 33 minutes normal? What is the ‘service target’ of how long we should expect to wait for a reply? Are resources increased at peak times?
2. How long should a crime incident number take to be texted to you? Is a week normal? Again is there a service target and if so what is it?
3. How many recorded bike thefts a year in Gloucester are there and what patterns are there? (Has anyone done a mapping exercise?) Have patrols been increased to the areas of highest theft?
4. How effective is registering a bike? What % of stolen bikes are recovered in total and for registered bikes (in our city)?
5. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, are all thefts of bikes registered as theft and given crime numbers? Or are some just given incident numbers, and if so what’s the breakdown of the two and why the different treatment: is there a danger of crime being under reported?
Graham went on to ask several more general questions about the reporting of crime and related targets.
In summary, he added: “My bike being stolen is completely irrelevant, except in one way: it has made me report a crime myself. I now want to know more about what service my constituents should expect, and what improvements, if need be, are being planned.
“So I’ll mail these questions to our Chief and our PCC, and meanwhile let me know about your experience (factually please and no abuse of anyone or anything).
“Meanwhile am offering £15 to anyone who can return Trek to me: here’s what she looks like (slightly fuzzy). No mudguard.”
A Gloucestershire Constabulary spokesman, quoted on Gloucestershire Live, said: “While we’re pleased Mr Graham feels he received a good service from the officers on the ground we are looking into the concerns he raises.
“The average wait time for people calling 101 has been around four minutes this year but can vary considerably and in peak times such as weekends it can be considerably longer while we prioritise 999 calls and respond to incidents that may involve a threat to life.
“The bike was stolen during one of our busiest weeks on record for emergency call-outs so this is likely to have played a part in the delay.”
Most of the people commenting on Gloucestershire Live’s tweet of its report, however, have pointed out that the party he represents has been responsible for police funding cuts over the past decade and, moreover, that he has voted in support of such measures.
As MP of 10yrs+ in power hence responsible & for police funding when voting in parliament. Will you be lobbing for Gov to give sufficient funding to police? (Rather than getting areas to fight over the too small funds & then blame them)?
Voting record extra: pic.twitter.com/wWBzPGxYrk
— SusiCurious (@SusiCurious) August 30, 2020
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.