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Shock as PSNI spends £450,000 on new bicycles

By Lesley-Anne Henry

The PSNI has spent almost half a million pounds on bicycles and biking equipment in the past three years, it can be revealed.

A total of £451,681.02 was spent buying 147 top-of-the-range bikes allocated to police stations in all parts of Northern Ireland.

Despite the hefty costs however the PSNI was unable to state how often, if at all, the bikes have been used in recent months.

According to figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper each bicycle cost £970.

The biggest bulk purchase by the PSNI’s Procurement Department was during 2007/08 when 83 bikes were bought at a cost of £80,510. A further £134,557.30 was spent on equipment such as cycle helmets, wrap-round sunglasses, fluorescent jackets, cycling gloves, cargo trousers and special shoes to be used by the 870 officers trained to ride the bikes.

The number of bikes bought during the last financial year 2008/09 dropped to 48, costing £46,560. In 2006/07 the PSNI purchased only 16 bicycles totalling £73,624.65.

All PSNI stations, including those where the threat from dissident republicans is considered high, have at least two bicycles. In Strabane where dissidents have been active there are nine bicycles for patrolling the streets while in Lurgan, where the Continuity IRA gunned down Constable Steven Carroll (48) in March, officers have two bicycles.

The PSNI says the bikes have been specially adapted for police work and allow for greater coverage and quicker response to calls for assistance.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “The use of bicycles is an effective tool for policing within various districts. Officers on bikes are highly effective at targeting specific crime problems as the bicycle allows the officer to catch criminals in the act as they are not easily seen or heard when patrolling.”

Policing Board member and former Police Federation Chairman Jimmy Spratt said: “I am shocked at the figure. To have spent half a million pounds on pedal cycles is absolutely scandalous given the police budget problems at this second in time.

“I would have no issue if they were being used on a regular basis but the point is they are not being used properly.”

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