Three new close-up, hi-definition CCTV cameras have been installed to cover the bike parking areas at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre (BSLC), a location which has become a hotspot for bike thefts over the last six months.
Bradley Stoke is currently suffering an unprecedented spate in bike thefts, with 25 reported stolen in the six-month period from November 2017 to April 2018, compared with just one in the corresponding period twelve months earlier. Of these 25, thirteen were stolen from the leisure centre, some distance ahead of the seven taken from the nearby Willow Brook Centre.
With the first theft from the leisure centre occurring on 3rd November, closely followed by six more before the end of the year, several of the victims, and even the local police, remarked on the “completely inadequate” CCTV coverage of the bike parking areas at the centre, which the Journal understands relied on a camera located around 40m away.
Following numerous calls from theft victims (or more usually their parents) saying the leisure centre needed to “up its game” on the security front, the Journal obtained a statement from Circadian Trust, the centre operators, in mid-November which unhelpfully said that “any property, including bikes, is ultimately the individual responsibility of the owner”. The statement said nothing specifically about CCTV for the bike parks, but added that they were “currently looking at increasing CCTV coverage generally in the car park”.
Suggestions that notices could be erected warning customers that the area was being targeted by bike thieves, a common practice elsewhere, such as at Parkway Station, were ignored.
Following a welcome reduction to just one theft in January, possibly influenced by publicity surrounding the Bike Fest @ The Stokes security awareness event on 6th January (organised by a local bike theft victim), the crime rate at the leisure centre soon shot back up with four bikes being taken in February.
With growing disquiet on social media over the lack of action being taken by the leisure centre management, the mother of the next victim (of a theft occurring on 2nd April), chose to escalate the issue to her local South Gloucestershire ward councillors. The Journal understands that it is this action which has finally brought about the installation of the new dedicated cameras for the bike parking and a plethora of police warning notices.
The Journal contacted the centre to ask why it had taken so long to install CCTV cameras, why warning notices had not been displayed from the outset, when and how had it been decided to install the cameras and who had funded them. Unfortunately, our specific questions weren’t answered; instead we were sent a statement which talks about security in very general terms (see below).
Reacting to the news, Sue Harding, whose son Josh organised the Bike Fest in January, said:
“I am delighted that BSLC have finally made improvements to the security around the bike sheds. Months of working with the local police team and one other local mum, has finally paid off! It’s a shame it has taken so many bike thefts to occur for the security to be improved, but it is very much a step in the right direction. All we need now is for the Willow Brook Centre to do the same, and continue to encourage bike owners to use D-type locks at all times.”
The mother of the victim whose bike was stolen on 2nd April told us:
“I would like to say a big thank you to Cllr Roger Avenin for backing up my letter which was sent to BSLC. Following this, three new HD cameras have been installed outside looking onto the bike racks. Unfortunately, it comes too late for those who have already had their bikes stolen, however, this will have an outstanding impact on any thefts in the future as it is an excellent deterrent. What’s more, if any bikes are stolen, these cameras will drastically improve the chances of recovering the bike and catching the criminal.”
Photo: Bike parking shelter at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre.
Related link: Bike Theft in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)
Statement from Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre
Rob Candlin, centre manager at Bradley Stoke Active Lifestyle Centre, said:
“The centre follows best practice guidelines by regularly reviewing and updating security measures.”
“We provide our customers with two well-lit bicycle racks that are monitored by a recently upgraded set of high-definition CCTV cameras. This camera system is linked to a 24-hour CCTV monitor in the duty manager’s office. We have also installed signage that draws customers’ attention to good security practice in the centre car park – an area that is regularly checked by staff.”
“Whilst any property left unattended on-site, including bikes, is ultimately the individual responsibility of the owner, we want our customers to feel confident that their property is as safe as possible.”
“We advise bike owners to take good caution when leaving their bike, ensuring that they use bike marking kits and a high-quality lock.”
“We will continue to review our security measures on a regular basis, but would like to remind our customers to report any suspicious activity to a member of staff immediately so that it can be investigated.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 14 & 15). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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