Bikers work with police to fight bike crime in Bristol hot-spots
Bristol rider works with police to stem rising tide of thefts
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’
A huge demo ride started the Bristol campaign The initiative gets police and riders working together