An open letter to my MP Luke Hall, on the subject of motorcycle theft, following the meeting of the Bristol Bike Theft Awareness panel at BAWA on Tuesday 30th January 2018. (thumbnail image from Bristol Evening Post)
Luke Hall MP
26 High Street,
This past Tuesday I, along with nearly two hundred other bikers, attended the inaugural Bristol Bike Theft Awareness meeting, at BAWA in Filton. This discussion panel meeting was the first of its type in the country, and reflected dissatisfaction in the matter of increasing local motorcycle theft and stolen motorcycle assisted crime, and with the apparent lack of police engagement. I’d like to expand on this with you and identify the central problem of inadequate central government funding in the hope you can address it directly with the appropriate Ministers.
The meeting was arranged by a local motorcyclist and the panel was made up of the Avon and Somerset Police Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, Police Superintendent Andy Bennet, Inspector Rob Cheeseman and both Southmead Councillors, as well as a Criminal Justice Unit support manager. This was a significant meeting and reflects the seriousness of the issue as seen from both sides of the discussion.
The frustration felt by the biker community was fierce, as was their desire to ensure by whatever means practicable that the situation did not continue. The frustration too of the police was articulated both by the Police Officers and by the PCC, who stated categorically that central government funding cuts in both the recent past and the anticipated future meant the Police Force was potentially unable to meet even its high priority targets and, in the face of crimes against the person, motorcycle thefts and the use of stolen motorcycles in further crimes was a low priority.
The Police Crime Commissioner made it totally clear that unless central government funding was increased, the situation would only deteriorate further. This was countered by a clear indication from the floor that bikers were well able to “police” the matter themselves if regular law enforcement operations were unable to do so. To that end there is now a discussion on how individual motorcyclists and motorcycle groups might work with the police as wardens. This is laudable, but inevitably there is a push toward vigilantism that will not end well.
I urge you to look into this matter. As a biker who has yet to (and hopefully never will) experience the loss or damage of his motorcycle (an asset of >£10k and ‘a family member’, if you will) I want to see this situation addressed, through increased police resource rather than the law of the street. I would find it hard, though, to condemn those who protected their possessions and perhaps their sole means of travel to work with more vigour. Please, therefore, would you bring this matter to the government. Please would you speak with the Home Secretary and the Ministry of Justice, who have the power to both set budgets and set appropriate sentences. I will be sharing this letter publicly and likewise your response, which I very much look forward to.
Yours in truth