A WOKING man is fuming after British Transport Police failed to prevent CCTV evidence being deleted when his bike was stolen at the town’s railway station.

“I thought there must be a good chance of apprehending who did it, but with this level of police incompetence criminals can get away with anything,” said Iain Petrie.

Iain’s son, Chris, a university student, had left the bike in a rack overnight as he visited friends. When he returned the next day, the bike had gone.

Chris, who is now abroad on a placement in Chile, said: “The bike had been stolen between midday on 1 July and midday 2 July. I reported the theft online on 2 July, bike stolen from parking shelter in the station car park, underneath CCTV.

“I received an email confirmation of my report, and later a crime reference. The next thing I heard from British Transport Police (BTP) was an email dated 10 August saying they couldn’t do anything because the CCTV had been overwritten.” 

In the email, confirmed in a letter dated nine days later and seen by the News & Mail, the investigating officer wrote: “I was assigned this crime on 27/07/22 and I requested the CCTV for the cycle hub. 

“Unfortunately, I have been informed by the CCTV department yesterday that the CCTV has been overwritten as it only lasts for 28 days. The request was looked at after the 28 days.

“Due to this there are no further lines of enquiry in relation to trying to identify the suspect who stole your bike.”

 The email adds, with impeccable understatement, “I am sure this is not the news you wanted to hear.”

It was certainly not the news Iain, who has raised a formal complaint with BTP, wanted to hear.

“We all know CCTV won’t be retained forever but you’d expect British Transport Police to know and act accordingly regarding theft in train stations.

“The delay appears to be that the initial processing of the online report takes so long that the CCTV will already have been deleted.

“The policing response is simply negligent. They should be on top of this issue about CCTV and the timing issues. It’s basic stuff.

“On top of being a victim of crime, the feeling is that the police are uncaring, which adds insult to injury.”

When contacted by the News & Mail, BTP responded to the issues raised by Iain.

“British Transport Police received an online report of a bike theft at Woking station on 1 July,” a statement said. “At the time, there was a backlog of online reports and as a result the most serious offences in this backlog had to be prioritised.

“In this case, it meant there was a delay in recording the bike theft, by which point the officer wasn’t able to request CCTV within the required time limit.

“In recent weeks we have worked hard to resolve this issue and the reporting backlog has now been cleared, with all online reported crimes now being recorded and allocated within 24 hours.”

Then, as a final twist, Chris was asked to complete a satisfaction survey.

“I filled it in for him,” Iain said. “I was completely dissatisfied with the way the issue was handled due to the failure to know and react within the CCTV limits, and the matter of fact way the failure to do so was communicated, as if this was something acceptable.

“BTP will never learn based on the way they seem to accept the failure as being OK and not being interested as far as I can see in wanting to improve: hence my complaint.”