Stolen bikes are getting a new lease of life - thanks to women at a Staffordshire prison.
Dozens of stolen bikes have been recovered by Stafford Borough Neighbourhood Policing Team in recent months as part of a major crackdown on theft and drugs related offences across the town.
Now those that cannot be identified and returned to their rightful owners are being donated to the Halford’s Academy at HMP/YOI Drake Hall, where women serving sentences can learn how to repair, refurbish and service the bikes until they are as good as new.
Bikes that are repaired and refurbished will then be donated to a number of charities so that local communities can benefit from the venture.
This initiative forms part of the prison’s rehabilitation and resettlement programme that enables women serving sentences to develop new skills as bike technicians for Halfords in customer facing roles. Halfords guarantee employment on release for every woman who completes the course.
Since 2017, 13 women have left the Academy with employment and continue to work with Halfords.
Councillor Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities at Stafford Borough Council, said; “There are many positives that these bikes will facilitate and I am delighted to have been involved in this scheme’s inception.
"It will help the women at HMP/YOI Drake Hall acquire additional skills, guaranteed employment on release, through the Halfords Academy which helps support women in their successful rehabilitation.
“And the fact that the bikes will then be available for local charities to benefit from is another great example of partnership working and communities helping communities.”
Chief Inspector Gemma Ward from Stafford Borough Neighbourhood Policing Team, said; “Over the past six months our policing team have listened to community concerns and worked tirelessly to address a problem with bicycle theft by targeting known suspects, making arrests and conducting searches of premises.
“Successful operations meant that we recovered a large number of bikes and then made real efforts to reunite them with their rightful owners. We ran media appeals and held open days for victims of crime to come and view the recovered bikes.
"Sadly, we still have unidentified bikes and so I’m really pleased with this new partnership which will hopefully turn a very negative story into a venture that benefits the local community really positively.
“Councillor Jeremy Pert kindly helped to connect us with the prison and has supported the logistics of the operation and we are very excited about the benefits this new partnership can yield.”
Governor of Drake Hall Prison, Carl Hardwick, said; “I am really enthusiastic about our women demonstrating their skill gained whilst in custody in conjunction with the Halford’s training package and the commitment they show to their own rehabilitation.
"It brings me joy to see the women acknowledging the impact of their offending whilst having the opportunity to giving back to the local community."