SUFFOLK police came under fire last night after plans were unveiled to hand prolific offenders previously stolen bicycles – for free.

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Critics have labelled the scheme “absurd” and claim it is an insult to victims of crime.

However, the force has strongly defended its plans – saying the “Re-cycling Cycles” initiative will give ex-offenders a means of transport so they can go out to find jobs. The scheme will be trialled in Ipswich and could then be rolled out across the rest of the county.

At the moment, any unclaimed lost, stolen or found bicycles are usually auctioned off under the Police Property Act.

However, in the new initiative they will be identified and stored for offenders, and Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust will then make applications for the bikes on behalf of priority offenders.

The cycles will then be handed over at no cost to the recipients.

Fiona McEvoy, grassroots manager for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the scheme could encourage thefts in the future.

“This absurd scheme just legitimises the initial bike theft, with offenders benefiting directly from crime,” she said.

“In some cases, Suffolk police could even be handing the bike back to the very person who stole it, which isn’t much of a deterrent to would-be thieves.

“The victims of bike crime will be astonished and it looks as though the police are making a rod for their own back.”

Meanwhile, keen cyclist Dave Brady, 29, of Bury St Edmunds, who now stores his £3,000 mountain bike in his living room after a spate of thefts in the area, said the move was “an insult to the victims of crime”.

“It is ridiculous,” the design engineer said. “These offenders should not be rewarded and subsidised by the innocent people who have lost possessions and probably never even had compensation.

“I can understand their motive, but why should those who chose to lead a life of crime get any extra help. Give them a pair of trainers and they can walk.”

The applications will be looked at on a “case-by-case” basis and only given to prolific and other priority offenders (PPOs) for whom a bike would be beneficial.

There will be a disclaimer on the cycles, meaning they will be removed from the offender and given back to their rightful owner if they are traced.

Detective Inspector Richard Crabtree, of Ipswich CID, who came up with the scheme, said the bikes should not be seen as free gifts and would not be given out to every offender.

‘’This is a well-intended scheme and an holistic approach to assist individuals –who, for whatever reason, have been on the wrong side of the law – gain meaningful employment,” he said.

“This initiative allows us to work with and support our partners in the probation service to try to break the cycle of repeat offending.”

He said bikes would only be offered to individuals who were fully engaged with the police and the probation service and were deemed as suitable to receive this kind of intervention to help with their rehabilitation.

“We want to provide a way of encouraging offenders to gain employment, taking them away from their criminal lifestyles and encouraging them to positively contribute towards society,” he said.

Victoria Woods, senior probation officer for the Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust, said: “Finding employment can have a positive influence on people seeking to address their offending behaviour.

“ Often the lack of independent transport prevents some people from securing permanent positions. This scheme will hopefully address this shortfall.”

Editorial comment – Page 39

16 comments

  • That's great - you now get rewarded for commiting crime!

    Report this comment

    Star Reader

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • What a lucrative business! Steal a bike and get one free. If you think it pays to be a thief why would you use a bike to look for work? More likely for a quick getaway. My son has had his bike stolen and could not afford to buy a new one...he is punished twice by this ridiculous declaration. What about the hardworking, cash strapped, law abiding kids? Get a grip.

    Report this comment

    sue douglas

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

  • As a retired dinosaur detective I find this absolutely bonkers! A gross insult to the decent young kids out there who can ill afford to buy a bike. A gross insult to victims of crime. This just shows how today's police 'leaders' have turned the Force (sorry Service) into pink and fluffy would be social workers with 'partners.' Robert Peel formed the Police to PREVENT AND DETECT CRIME. AND PROTECT THE LAW ABIDING PUBLIC.

    Report this comment

    david rowson

    Monday, August 16, 2010

  • And they say crime doesnt pay - time and time again someone comes up with a stupid idea which effectively rewards bad behaviour. My kids could do with new bikes, why should i bother saving to buy them, maybe i should send them out stealing and eventually they'll get given them?!

    Report this comment

    Red Ms

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

  • Suffolk Constabulary are seriously taking the mickey here aren't they!!! Given them stolen bikes. They say crime doesn't pay..... it sure does in this case as usual. They are going to be used to help them find a job.... get real you idiots. Please reassure me someone is going to be held responsible for this.... giving back STOLEN property. Surely they must be committing some sort of offence here themselves. Fraud!!! How about helping the people that really do need the help you idiots.

    Report this comment

    Concerned of Suffolk

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • I was a victim of cycle theft several years ago when it was my only means of transport and when I was not insured (because of cost), could not afford to replace it because I was unemployed. I would rather see the victims of cycle theft offered free bicycles ( or bicycles at some nominal but affordable charge).

    Report this comment

    John Shirley

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • Seems like we have a long way yet to go before we get the hang of law and order in this country.

    Report this comment

    Sarky Sage

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

  • As a law abiding tax payer I would rather have Suffolk police chasing and catching criminals rather than wasting there time with all this politicaly correct nonesense. Do they really think that a offenders will cease criminal activity on the promise of a free bike....of coarse not because they can just steal one when required! Come on Suffolk police, wake up and smell the coffeee!

    Report this comment

    Peter Achandunie

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • oh i have heard it all now, so ibc are saving that if you are a criminal then you get rewarded?? well thats pathetic and will upset alot of honest tax payers,... why not give the bikes to a charity or better still sell them to raise funds for the kids in this town to have some form of youth centre in the town?? somewhere for them to learn stuff whilst having a laugh with their mates? somewhere well run with decent youth workers and training etc in life and get those people whom have turned their lifes around in to chat to these kids ....educate the future generations instead of rewarding the criminals whom lets face it will be laughing at getting a 'feebie' and half will prob sell the bikes anyhow.

    Report this comment

    aly ipswich

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • I had to check todays date, to make sure it wasn't April 1st. How absolutely rediculous. What next, unclaimed stolen Rolex watches given to offenders so that they can ensure they get everywhere on time?

    Report this comment

    L S

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • This is one more example of exactly the wrong incentive. You will never cure social ills by restraining the innocent and liberating the offenders. Offenders have demonstrated by their crime that they are not willing to earn their keep. This simply makes it easier to rationalize the fallacy that people can live that way in a civilized society.

    Report this comment

    SirDiesAlot

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

  • I read in some newspaper today that a family with 12 kids are getting a five bed-roomed house and £30000 a year on benefits as the husband is out of work. I think he should be offered a bicycle.

    Report this comment

    JOHN BURLS

    Monday, August 16, 2010

  • Absolute rubbish. DI Crabtree, who came up with the scheme, should concentrate on catching these idiots rather than rewarding them. What next, returning stolen cars to those who have stolen them ! "Often the lack of independent transport prevents some people from securing permanent positions. This scheme will hopefully address this shortfall.” Rubbish, I know plenty of people who have no form of personal transport but have managed to get and hold down permanent jobs. Never heard of public transport !

    Report this comment

    dean james

    Monday, August 16, 2010

  • This is one more example of exactly the wrong incentive. You will never cure social ills by restraining the innocent and liberating the offenders. Offenders have demonstrated by their crime that they are not willing to earn their keep. This simply makes it easier to rationalize the fallacy that people can live that way in a civilized society.

    Report this comment

    SirDiesAlot

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

  • They can now cycle away from there latest crime .Why stop there give any potential bank robber a getaway car

    Report this comment

    whiteknight

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

  • I find this unbelievable, rewarding offenders with free gifts? What about our upstanding citizens that find themselves unemployed, why don't they benefit? If you want to encourage offenders to look for work, why don't you take away their benefit? That should make the beggars get off their backsides and go and look for work. I think, that taking away someones benefit, for being found guilty of any crime, would not only save the country some money, but encourage less crime. But no, the police want to reward offenders. Are they thinking? do you really think that by giving them a bicycle, they will encourage that person to look for work? I think it's high time the government stopped foccusing on trying to rehabilitate scroungers, and offenders by severing all forms of support, and concentrate on helping out the working man, who always gets overlooked, while those that dont contribute to society are "helped" by getting free handouts, thereby taking food from the mouths of the honest citizens who really need it. Where I come from, if you didn't contribute to society, you received no handouts... There was no housing support, no child support, no jobseekers allowance, and if you ended up enemployed, you received benefits for only six months, in decreasing amounts. If you failed to secure work then, too bad. This, encouraged people not to be lazy, to be industrious, to fend for themselfs, and to think before having children at a rate that would put a colony of rabbits to shame.

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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