Bik­ers work with po­lice to fight bike crime in Bristol hot-spots

Bristol rider works with po­lice to stem ris­ing tide of thefts

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Alit­tle over a year ago, Paul Walker ap­proached Avon and Som­er­set Po­lice due to their lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion about a sud­den rise in bike theft in the area. Just like in other cities, bike thieves in Bristol were get­ting more brazen, even go­ing as far as boast­ing about stolen bikes on so­cial me­dia and taunt­ing the vic­tims of their crimes.

“The bik­ing com­mu­nity was up in arms,” said Walker. “I couldn’t sit back and let it hap­pen. The po­lice had no idea that such a close-knit com­mu­nity of bik­ers ex­isted and ad­mit­ted that they needed to en­gage.”

The po­lice also had con­cerns about pos­si­ble vig­i­lante be­hav­iour, so they de­cided to head that off by work­ing with lo­cal rid­ers. To­gether they formed an in­de­pen­dent ad­vi­sory group, at the re­quest of the po­lice. Af­ter the meet­ing, Walker helped set up the Bristol Bike Theft Aware­ness group to work with the po­lice and spread the anti-crime mes­sage. In Oc­to­ber 2017, they or­gan­ised an aware­ness ride at­tended by over 700 bikes to show sup­port to the lo­cal com­mu­nity. That re­sulted in three ar­rests af­ter thieves at­tempted to dis­rupt the event. In Fe­bru­ary, 170 rid­ers met with se­nior of­fi­cers from the force to dis­cuss the theft prob­lem, re­sult­ing in a com­plete change to how lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers han­dle the sen­si­tive is­sue.

“The vic­tim no longer gets the stan­dard ‘here’s a crime ref­er­ence num­ber for your in­sur­ance’ an­swer,” added Walker. “In­stead we have an as­sur­ance that an of­fi­cer will at­tend, ob­tain de­tails (in­clud­ing pic­tures for so­cial me­dia) and talk about suit­able se­cu­rity mea­sures.”

The group have even se­cured dis­counts on se­cu­rity prod­ucts from lo­cal deal­ers and of­fi­cers reg­u­larly at­tend bike nights to dis­cuss cur­rent prob­lems. “We are well on the way to mak­ing Bristol and the sur­round­ing ar­eas the safest city to be in terms of bike thefts. We even have a num­ber of other forces look­ing at what we’ve done to see what they can learn from it. “I truly think that de­spite the neg­a­tiv­ity of the ‘Them and Us’ sce­nario, the two worlds can find a good way of work­ing to­gether. We have proved that.

“It’s re­fresh­ing to see the po­lice ac­tu­ally fight­ing with us for the com­mon goal and Avon and Som­er­set Po­lice de­serve the credit for this pos­i­tive and proac­tive at­ti­tude.”

‘Other forces are look­ing at what we’ve done’

PAUL WALKER

A huge demo ride started the Bristol cam­paign The ini­tia­tive gets po­lice and rid­ers work­ing to­gether

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