Declining rates of bicycle theft charges and summonses

We’re witnessing a significant decline in the number of bicycle theft crimes resulting in ‘charges’ or ‘summonses’ in England and Wales. In the mid-2010s, the police were able to solve nearly three times as many bicycle theft cases, despite the overall number of reported thefts being higher at that time.

The table below presents the data on charged and summonsed crime outcomes for all of England and Wales. The information is sourced from the Home Office, as of 27 April 2023.

Ending March 2016
Ending March 2017
Ending March 2018
Ending March 2019
Ending March 2020
Ending March 2021
Ending March 2022
Ending December 2022 1/2 year
Ending March 2023
Charged/Summonsed
3.44%
2.72%
2.41%
2.48%
1.95%
1.9%
1.6%
1.2%
TBC

It’s important to note that occasional IT challenges faced by specific police forces may result in delays and missing Home Office data. Nevertheless, considering various factors and events from the beginning of the decade, the downward trend remains evident.

How is your local police force performing in addressing bicycle theft?

You can view our interactive chart below, which displays data from each force (year ending March 2022).

Please keep in mind that the British Transport Police, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire encountered IT difficulties during this period. Additionally, forces have varying staff levels and total numbers of bicycle thefts, and population levels are not taken into account.

Now, let’s shift our focus to London

The situation in London, particularly concerning The Met, warrants attention. In the year ending March 2022, out of the 20,842 reported bicycle thefts under the Metropolitan Police, only 198 (1%) resulted in charges or summonses. However, between March 2022 and December 2022, the outcome rate decreased to 0.64%. It will be crucial to examine the final year-end percentage (ending March 2023) once the data is released.

One small caveat to note in London is the better performance of the City of London police in comparison. However, it is important to consider that their jurisdiction covers a very small area with a relatively low number of stolen bikes.

As previously emphasised by Stolen Ride, we must not underestimate the impact of bicycle theft on individuals’ lives. Adequate funding and attention from the police forces and justice system is key.

There is a glimmer of hope

The majority of bike thieves, consistently around 90%, remain unidentified in England and Wales. However, the data (as shown in the table below) suggests a very slight positive trend, indicating a potential improvement in the police’s ability to locate bike thieves, although in limited numbers. It is crucial that any guilty criminals face appropriate charges.

Ending March 2016
Ending March 2017
Ending March 2018
Ending March 2019
Ending March 2020
Ending March 2021
Ending March 2022
Ending December 2022 1/2 year
Ending March 2023
No suspect identified
87.67%
88.29%
88.92%
89.33%
89.26%
89.3%
88.7%
79.45%
TBC

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the progress in this trend, we eagerly await the release of complete year-ending data for March 2023 and subsequent years.