Seaford couple ‘extremely shocked and disappointed’ after police lose their bikes worth nearly £1,400
A couple from Seaford said they have been ‘penalised’ by police who lost nearly £1,400 worth of bikes after seizing them at a protest in September.
Roy and Rebecca Francomb attended an Extinction Rebellion protest in London on September 3 last year. During the protest their bikes, along with 200 others, were seized by police but no charges were pressed.
Protesters were riding through London to point out the lack of safe cycling facilities. The seized bikes were taken to police storage.
Upon asking for their bikes back after the incident, police told them by email that their bikes were not in the storage facility.
The email from the Met said, “I am very sorry to report that we do not appear to have any [bikes] that match the description of the two that you are seeking the return of. The reason for this is not clear but I want to assure you that we are doing everything that we can in order to trace your bicycles.”
Roy and Rebecca replied to police that they were ‘extremely shocked and disappointed’ that this could happen.
The pair told police in December, “The bikes are our main means of local transportation. We have waited patiently for three months now trusting that they would soon be returned to us only to be told they have some how been mislaid and there is no advice as to what can be done to address our loss.”
Following another month of back and forth, Rebecca told police, “I’m really struggling without my bike. It’s been four months now and has been expensive using alternative transport. It’s a particular problem now as I’m trying to avoid public transport for Covid reasons.
“I am semi-retired and really can’t afford the expense of replacing it so would be grateful if you could let me know how I can make a claim for compensation for the loss of my bike since September.”
At the end of January the couple emailed police, “It is now five months since these items were seized and we have had no indication of when either the items will be restored to us or compensation for their loss will be made. I trust you will understand that having been advised there is no further action to be taken against we feel it is most unfair that we should continue to be penalised in this way.”
They also attached a list of how much each item was worth that had been taken. The lists, which included the bikes, various cycling accessories and personal belongings, came to a total of £1,388.88.
Now months on from the protest, Roy and Rebecca said one of the bikes has been found along with some personal belongings which are ready to collect once lockdown restrictions are lifted. One bike is still missing and the couple says they have been offered compensation for it.
An email from the Met said, “In respect of your bike and jacket I am unable to offer compensation since both items have been retained and can be restored to you. I can advise that unfortunately we have been unable to locate the Vodoo mountain bike. If you can please send through the purchase receipt I will arrange for you to be reimbursed.”
Rebecca said, “The whole incident has been a monumental waste of police time and public money.
“Although no further action is being taken against Roy or myself, and indeed most of the other riders, we have been penalised, with no access to our bikes for over five months.
“My main concern is that some very expensive bikes have gone missing without explanation. It does make you wonder how this could happen? Is it down to criminal acts or incompetency? Either way it does not reflect well on the Met police.”