Bicycle Theft in Derby data analysis

The police provide data on crime across the country and the information has been analysed to explore Bicycle Theft within Derby City.

The data is reliant on individuals reporting incidents to the police, on the police actually recording the incidents (recently Manchester police in particular have been criticised for not recording some crime), for the crime type to be assigned correctly, and for the police to locate the crimes accurately on the map. For privacy reasons, the police deliberately slightly move the actual location of the crime and, for visibility reasons, I’ve also moved some of the crime locations so that those occurring at the same place are visible. Crimes classified as “Bicycle theft” include stealing unattended bikes from the street and stealing bikes from sheds or outhouses. However, the figures probably don’t include theft of a bicycle from inside a house (burglary) or theft as part of a mugging (robbery).

Given these caveats, the data is useful to see where particular types of crime occur in the Derby area. The map below shows the geographic distribution of “bicycle theft” in the wider Derby City Council area.

Each blue point represents the location of a single reported crime of bicycle theft.

Focusing on the city centre (defined as a 2km square centred on the Market Place), this shows hotspots for bicycle theft with the most frequent crimes being in the area of The Spot with the site of the old Debenhams, the bus station, and the area near the Council House also reported in a lot of incidents. There are also some thefts near the railway station – both nearby and from the platform. The wider Derby map shows a cluster near the Derby Royal Hospital.

The above map shows the data for the last 3 years which is summarised for the city centre below.

This chart shows how bicycle theft dropped significantly in the city centre during the early months of the pandemic (April, May, June 2020) but has now reverted back to levels similar to previous years.

2018
2019
2020

Click on the images above to see larger versions.

The locations for the crimes over the last 3 years in the city centre seem to be consistent with the same hotspots except that the bus station and some of the train station crimes are greatly reduced probably as a result of the pandemic and lack of demand for public transport.

There were 1957 reported bicycle thefts within the city boundaries over the last 3 years – a rate approaching two per day. Of these 1957 crimes, a disappointing 1591 (81%) were closed with no suspect identified and investigation complete. There were also a number of crimes (160 – 8%) where the suspect couldn’t be prosecuted (normally due to a lack of evidence). Very, very few crimes resulted in a significant penalty for the offender although some outcome data is not available to the Ministry of Justice and a few cases are still outstanding. This data is summarised below.

Offence201820192020Totals
Awaiting court outcome002121
Court result unavailable3418254
Defendant found not guilty1001
Further investigation is not in the public interest6006
Investigation complete; no suspect identified5065445411591
Local resolution1613130
Offender given a caution3003
Offender given community sentence2002
Offender given conditional discharge3003
Offender sent to prison5005
Status update unavailable312520
Unable to prosecute suspect654847160
Under investigation001414
Missing data21131347
TOTALS6656486441957

Examining the cases where an outcome is known, this shows (for the 3 years of data) that only 13 (less than 1%) resulted in a penalty (caution, prison, etc.), 1 was found not guilty and 30 (less than 2%) were resolved locally (generally by discussion between the offender and the victim).

A UK Government discussion of bicycle theft data and trends can be found here.

Summary

There seem to be a small number of hotspots for bicycle crime in the city centre and these have remained fairly consistent over the last 3 years.

The pandemic lockdown reduced the numbers of bicycle thefts in the city centre but less so in the wider City. However, with the end of lockdown, crime numbers have reverted back to normal.

A small minority of bicycle crime results in the identification of an offender and an even smaller minority result in any significant punishment.

It is important that the Police focus on reducing the unacceptable level of cycle crime in the city and that, where offenders are identified, focus is put on a successful prosecution and a sentence that can act as a deterrent to future crime.

For cycle travel into the City Centre it is important that people are confident that they can securely leave their cycle whilst visiting shops, etc. Secure parking facilities are desperately required for cycling to be accepted as a widely used method of visiting the city.

Bikeworks on Full Street offer free secure bike parking but only during their opening hours. Further facilities near the existing theft hotspots are urgently needed.

[data, maps and graphs updated in January 2021 to reflect full 2020 year of data]