Bike lock wins award

Portsmouth University police officer Dave Fairbrother has won a Home Office innovation award for an innovative bicycle lock he designed which can significantly reduce thefts.

Fairbrother scooped the ‘equipment and technology innovation award’ alongside Len Weaver, managing director of Winchester firm SOS Response, who turned the idea for the lock into reality.

The lock and accompanying technology they developed has proved hugely successful in cutting bicycle thefts on one street in Portsmouth, and the scheme will now be extended to cover another 100 bicycles in a different part of the university campus.

The highly commended award was presented at the Home Office Scientific Development Branch’s annual exhibition in Buckinghamshire. The event is open only to people working in government departments or in law enforcement worldwide.

PC Fairbrother came up with the idea for the bicycle lock that both deters thieves and helps catch them after he grew fed up with seeing hundreds of students’ bicycles stolen. It works by combining a motion detector, texting and CCTV. Since being introduced in King Henry I Street in the city centre last year bicycle thefts in that area have fallen by more than 90 percent.

The idea is so simple it could be installed to protect racks of bicycles in town centres, railway stations and across university campuses. Even before the device won the Home Office award, police officers and university security staff showed intereset in seeing the technology demonstrated.

Fairbrother said: ‘Bicycle theft is a huge problem and in the past it was often luck if a thief was caught. But with this technology we will always be watching and any attempted thefts of bicycles will result in the thief being captured on camera. The motion sensor lock is also highly visible and acts as a deterrent.’

Weaver, whose firm made the device, is marketing it under the name Wasp (Wireless Asset Security Protection). He said the same technology could eventually be used to protect valuable and vulnerable equipment and belongings such as laptops.