POLICE have delivered a major blow to an Island charity that recycles bicycles to Africa.
Hampshire Constabulary has cut off the supply of unclaimed stolen bikes from its lost property store — saying it feared being sued if someone was hurt using one.
Now, instead of being recycled and used, the bikes are scrapped.
The decision was greeted with dismay by a frustrated organiser of the appeal on the Island, who believes the police have applied a blanket restriction that should not be used against the charity he volunteers for.
On the Island, Re-cycle has sent a total of 600 bikes to be used as Third World transport lifelines. More than half came from the police lost property department.
Island appeal organiser Tony Harding described loss of police support as a terrible blow. He is now trying to drum-up public donations to plug the gap.
"It has been a big miss and really frustrating," he said.
"The cycles from the police were not always in great condition but we would clean them up as much as we could. Then, when we got them to the Re-cycle centre in Colchester, their team would get them up to scratch, or they would be worked on when they got to Africa.
"At no time in this process were any of these bikes available to the British public, which makes the statement by the police rather baffling. Is this a blanket statement for all charities and do they have any information on what Re-cycle does?
"We recently received 30 cycles from the lost property office at Bournemouth Railway Station in Dorset, where there were no such qualms."
Constabulary property manager Lucy Jenkins said: "It would be irresponsible for Hampshire Constabulary to release bicycles to charities without first assuring they are safe for the public to use. Unfortunately, the force does not have the resources available to conduct the necessary checks on every bicycle in its possession.
"If the force released bicycles without appropriate checks and someone was injured due to the bicycle being unsafe, any compensation paid to that person by the force would come from the public purse, diverting funds from other policing areas."