Friday, January 22, 2010

Action on cycle theft now a priority

Progress was made at Strategy and Resources committee on Monday to tackle the problem of cycle theft in Cambridge, as Councillors changed the city wide community safety partnership priorities for the year ahead to including tackling the problem of cycle theft. The current situation with cycle theft in Cambridge is a scandal - nearly 2,500 stolen last year, and many Coleridge residents have been affected.

Cycling in Cambridge isn't something people do for a couple of hours leisure activity on a Saturday afternoon, it is vital to getting people to their places of work or study, and it is a vital part of transport systems in the city. We need this problem taken seriously, and co-ordinated steps taken to make it as easy as possible to securely lock or store bikes around the city, and to identify, track down and severley punish those that think it is acceptable to steal or trade stolen bikes in the City. I don't go quite as far as Boris, who as ever is very sound on the subject but pretty close.

I'm pleased to say that despite being the only Conservative Councillor on the City Council, it was my amendment that was passed to make cycle theft a priority, with Labour support, and the Lib Dems abstaining - leaving the committee in favour, and the leader of the Council with little choice but to accept the amendment!

When the annual community safety plan priorities were agreed last January, I was persuaded that cycle theft didn't need to be a priority as there was a separate project and it was already being taken seriously. Since then, cycle theft has increased in the city by 8% - whatever has been done over the last year clearly isn't working, and the suggestion that there is a special project to look at the issue just didn't go far enough. The lead police officer for the proposed special project mentioned in the committee report is apparently no longer even working in Cambridge City, which gives some idea of how much activity is really going on in this area at the moment.

The Community Safety partnership brings together police and local authorities, to tackle crime and community safety problems that need action from several agencies. I will be following up how this priority is taken forward, and would like to see a taskforce setup to tackle this problem, involving the police, the councils, the Universities and campaign groups like Cambridge Cycling Campaign, starting with a meeting that (once the hour long bleat from the police about lack of resources is over) brainstorms what could be done.

I'm sure there is lots more encouargement that can be given for locking bikes, and ensuring they are registered (e.g. at immobilise), but the authorities need to go much further. The situation with lack of suitable cycle parking, not just at the station but around the city is scandalous - this must be addressed, and urgently.

But we should stop just blaming the victims for having their bikes stolen - lets have 'bait bikes' with tracker devices around the city, not just one or two, but significant numbers owned and operated by residents as well as the police. There needs to be a senior police officer in the city (above sergeant level) who has tackling bike theft as a specific responsibility, and we need to make sure every effort is made to catch, severely punish and name and shame those reponsible for bike theft until it is clear it is totally unacceptable.


Anonymous said...

It's Cambridge *Cycling* Campaign, Chris.
Good work though.


Chris Howell said...

Apologies - thats not the first time I've got that wrong... Fixed now hopefully

Frugal Dougal said...

Well done! As you say, my bike is my transport and, on the two occasions when I've had a bike stolen, it's been a real hassle going by bus, especially when I've needed to be somewhere really early. (This isn't a criticism of the Cambridge bus system, which I think is excellent.)