2023 Cycle Crime Conference

The 8th Cycle Crime Conference,  hosted by BikeRegister and supported by West Midlands Police and British Transport Police, was held on Tuesday 4th July at the Tally Ho Conference Centre in Birmingham.

The Cycle Crime Conference delivered a strong message to delegates - ‘Let’s Beat Cycle Crime Together’. Now in its eighth year, the July conference was hosted by BikeRegister, the National Cycle Database, and held at West Midlands Police Training Centre in Birmingham.

Chaired by Chartered Security Professional Rick Mounfield (MSc CSyP FSyI), the conference opened with a welcome from ACC Andrew Hill from West Midlands Police, then delivered a wide variety of guest speakers including Adam Tranter, Walking & Cycling Commissioner for the West Midlands; and Will Norman, Walking & Cycling Commissioner for London.

Chair Rick Mounfield spoke highly of the impressive line-up of speakers on the day: “Having a couple of the Walking and Cycling Commissioners in the same room from two different major cities gave a good contrast and academic input. Also having different constabularies give their own input and best practice, together with the insurance world and BikeRegister itself – all working together to complement each other.”

There was an excellent presentation from Dr Kate Tudor of Durham University which showcased preliminary findings from the Home Office Stolen Goods Market Review, which was commissioned to understand more about the stolen goods market in the UK. According to the study, bikes are 10th in the list of commodities most frequently reported as stolen across all offence types. The study also looks at ways of lowering the profitability of bike crime and asks where legislative intervention might be needed most – such as introducing ‘marking at manufacture’ or ‘registration at point of sale’.

Dr Tudor said: “There are huge differences in the types of offenders that are involved in bike theft. They all require very different kinds of responses. We really need to think about online sales platforms, think about closing down opportunities within local sales outlets, but also crucially think about how we might police more effectively.” She added: “We all know that BikeRegister works and it needs to be rolled out much further.”

Delegates also heard from Inspector Ed McNeill from Cambridge City Police who has instigated bike marking across the city and was keen to talk about how BikeRegister has helped tackle cycle crime, saying: “The BikeRegister Police App works when you are wet, cold and hungry at 4am and is more responsive than most police systems.”

Insp McNeil set up a Cycle Crime Task and Finish Group in Cambridge including members from all areas of business, the university, the council, charities and police. He said: “The Police Service in isolation can’t solve cycle crime. We’ve been working on this for the last 3 years. I think we’ve got some good ideas and as policing likes to borrow with pride, any police force is welcome to come along and take these ideas.”

Emphasizing the fact that the solution to cycle crime needs to be a multi-partnership approach, Dr Will Norman, Walking & Cycling Commissioner for London said: “Tackling cycle crime is all about changing the environment. No one single partner can play a role in that. It’s not just the role of the police, it’s not just the role of the local authorities. The only way we’re going to tackle cycle crime in this country is by working together – the industry, local authorities, the police and communities themselves.”

Other speakers included Sgt Carly Bryce and Sgt Ted Zokas who talked about Police Scotland’s national approach to cycle security which includes their new 5-year Acquisitive Crime Strategy and their successful ‘Lock It or Lose It’ campaign. They also spoke about the highly effective work they are leading across Glasgow to help prevent cycle crime ahead of the UCI Cycling World Championships, involving more than 8,000 cyclists.

Sgt Bryce said: “Lots of things seem too difficult to solve but there are many things we can do to help solve cycle crime such as putting in place stricter bail conditions, requesting special disposal routes from the court – that would really impact on the offenders that commit offences in that way.”

Next, Inspector Titus Halliwell from the Met Police gave an update on the Met’s National Cycle Crime Reduction Partnership and Strategy and explained how the Met has been able to reduce crime by sharing best practice. Inspector Halliwell said: “This conference is really important because it brings police forces, partners and other collaborative people together to work in a joined-up way to reduce cycle crime on a national level.”

Adam Browne, Director and Co-founder of AlsoBikes Ltd (which trades as Advanced Bikes UK) spoke about what mobility manufacturers should be offering customers to inspire confidence and create security.
Adam said: “As a manufacturer, we can’t directly influence crime, but we can make our products less attractive to thieves, indirectly influencing the situation. It’s really about being involved in something that can and will help the cycle industry to get back on its feet, to get people out of their homes, out of their cars, onto their bikes and to put a smile on their faces. If you want to get about, get a bike!”

For added customer security, Advanced Bikes now pre-register their e-Bikes with BikeRegister and GPS tracking is installed by the manufacturers.

Josh Worrall-Hardman from our cycle insurance partner Bikmo also addressed the conference. Josh said: “Many cyclists assume that their bikes are adequately covered by their home contents insurance, but often they are not.”

Josh shared some of Bikmo’s claims data from last year, including the fact that 57% of all claims relate to bike theft and 40% to accidental damage. Their data shows that 77% of incidents happen away from the home, with 23% happening at home. This year, Bikmo predicts that e-bike policies will exceed policies taken out to cover mechanical bikes.

Other police speakers included PC Mike Neate from South Wales Police. Mike is a great advocate for BikeRegister and has been supporting the initiative with marking events for a long time.

He said: “Bike theft is really the biggest blocker to active travel. We just need to make sure the public are reassured that bike theft can be dealt with and prevented. I’m very grateful to BikeRegister for the opportunity to come and talk about what we’re doing here in Cardiff around cycle crime and also about the excellent community engagement from our South Wales Police Volunteers.”

He concluded: “There have been some fabulous speakers here today and there is a lot of information to bring back home.”

Adam Tranter, Waking & Cycling Commissioner for the West Midlands was also impressed with this year’s conference, saying: “38 police forces from around the country delivering and sharing ideas and best practise. I’ve learnt a lot today about how I can have an impact to help to fight cycle crime.”

BikeRegister MD James Brown was the final speaker of the day and gave an update on the company’s activities over the last year.

The BikeRegister database now contains more than 1.25 million bike registrations, and over 1 million users. James reinforced the impact that bike marking makes, stating that “a marked bike is 83% less likely to be stolen than an unmarked one.”

He confirmed that bike recoveries linked to BikeRegister are up by 37% (2022 vs 2021). He also outlined that 100,000+ bikes have been registered since the last cycle crime conference (12 months ago) and that over £500,000 worth of bikes were recovered in 2022.

The BikeRegister App, which is available to download for Android devices from Google Play is now available to retailers and members of the public to register bikes.

James also explained how BikeRegister is working with the Bicycle Association to drive its key objective mentioned in its Guide to Cycle Security & Tackling Theft: ‘The Bicycle Association believes that the single biggest thing that retailers can do to help tackle theft, is to help deliver mass registration of new bikes on a security database.’

James Brown concluded: “It’s been brilliant to be back in Birmingham for our 8th Cycle Crime Conference. It remains an incredibly important way for organisations such as the police, local authorities and business to join together to fight cycle crime. Thank you to all our speakers and all of our attendees. See you next year for Cycle Crime 2024!”