STUDENTS caught without bike lights are undermining a police scheme to keep them safe by demanding refunds on lights from cycle shops.

Police launched their Lights on Bikes campaign at the beginning of November to coincide with the clocks changing and dark nights drawing in.

Cyclists caught breaking the law are given the opportunity to avoid the fine if they show police a receipt for new lights within seven days.

But bike shop staff revealed some people, particularly students, were returning to the store to get a refund after they had shown officers their new lights.

Jason Hewett, manager of Beeline Bicycles in Cowley Road, Oxford, said: “We normally do get a big influx in, but it has not been as busy as it has been.

“The police will give a guy a fine, but maybe he already had bike lights and so they try to get a refund.”

Jim Tanner, of Bike Zone, in Market Street, Oxford, said: “The police have tried to stop it by stamping the receipt. We’ve had people who try to cut the police stamp off.

“The police have said, if they ask for a refund, we should ask for their name and the police will reissue the fine and double it. But this time of year we are now refusing all bike light refunds.”

Kevin Jedynowicz, assistant manager at Cycle King in Cowley Road, said: “The first two years they started this campaign we had hundreds of people buying lights.

“If anyone comes in with a receipt asking for a refund and we know they’re dodging the fine, we tell them they can’t have it.”

During a three-hour operation in High Street, Oxford, on Monday, November 1, 106 cycles were issued with £30 fines for riding without lights.

Last year, 159 people were killed or injured while riding bikes in Oxford. So far, 130 fines have been issued in the county.

Road safety officer Pc Mark Pilling said: “The initiative is now running 365 days-a-year and legally the force is unable to stop shops from offering refunds, but if the receipt has been stamped it will have been used to prove purchase of a set of cycle lights and avoid paying a fine.

“If anyone would rather ride without lights after dark they should expect to either get injured or repeatedly stopped and fined.”