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Specific bike theft police force redeployed to fight knife crime

Joe Robinson
18 Feb 2019

Special unit based in London and the South East to now be redeployed to dismay of officers

Police officers that specialise in investigating bike theft are set to be redeployed to tackle knife crime. In a report by The Sunday Times, it stated that the British Transport Police is set to close the bike theft unit which covers London and the South East from next month. 

A source confirmed to the newspaper that 'cycle theft is no longer seen as a priority' with public opinion around the issues suggesting victims 'do not care if their bike gets stolen' although confirming the taskforce's anger at the decision as they 'see cycle theft as a major problem that will get worse without a dedicated team'.

These officers are now set to be redistributed into teams dedicated to tackling London and south east England's growing knife crime issue.

In 2018, 135 stabbings resulted in fatalities in the capital, the highest total since 2008. The police force dedicated to the transport system are partly funded by the private train companies that run the services and will now double-down in combating violent crimes across the transport network.

Chief superintendent of the force, Martin Fry, also commented on the move stating that, 'it is right that we prioritise the deployment of our officers based on the crimes which cause the greatest concerns to the public and the most harm to victims' although adding that bike theft will not be neglected.

While this might seem like a logical redeployment of resources, Cycling UK's campaign officer Sam Jones underlined the significance of bike theft and the impact it can have on some victims' livelihoods. 

'Bicycles are not just playthings,' Jones said. 'For many people, they are the means to reach work or education, and for some, their profession is reliant on access to a bike.'

Between March 2017 and March 2018, 100,000 bike thefts were reported across England and Wales although actual figures are expected to be higher with many incidents going unreported.

London accounts for almost 25% of this total with mountain bikes the most popular among thieves, according to statistics released in 2018.

Rather than opportunistic theft, it is believed that bike crime is often the result of organised gangs targetting specific areas. 

In the last three years, over £22 million has been claimed on bicycle theft insurance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with 66% of victims admitting to cycling less after the crime.

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