Police sergeant admits he ‘would love the courts to get tough with poaching offences’ in Northumberland

A neighbourhood police sergeant in Northumberland has admitted that he ‘would love the courts to get tough with poaching offences’.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 20th September 2019, 9:31 am
Sgt Steven Knight of Northumbria Police.

Highlighting some of the forthcoming initiatives being carried out by Northumbria Police at the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council meeting on Monday (September 16), Sgt Steven Knight mentioned a week of action on rural crime taking place next month.

This prompted Coun Richard Dodd, a farmer who represents the Ponteland North ward, to ask: “When are you going to get tough on poachers?”

He claimed that the same people are often caught in the early hours of the morning, but get away with it by saying they are taking their dogs for a walk or something similar.

Coun Richard Dodd

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Sgt Knight, who previously worked in north Northumberland and has taken on the Morpeth role in the past few weeks, responded: “You are preaching to the converted.”

He explained that the evidence threshold was so high for poaching offences that you ‘pretty much have to catch the animals hanging out of the dog’s mouth’.

“I would love the courts to get tough with that offence,” he added.

“But it is taken seriously by the police, hence the whole week of action taking place.”

Councillors, including the council leader Peter Jackson and cabinet member Glen Sanderson, also raised concerns about members being out of the loop with what was happening on issues such as anti-social behaviour in their areas and not receiving updates from police or the council’s community safety team.

Coun Dodd said: “LMAPS (local multi-agency problem-solving meetings, which have been replaced by a new system) was a useful tool. In some places, some problems probably went round and round, but getting rid of LMAPS hasn’t worked out because you used to have time face-to-face with police.”

Coun Sanderson added: “There’s a problem in respecting county councillors and you don’t involve us. We shouldn’t have to rely on Facebook and being told by residents.”

Coun Dave Ledger said that he used to know who the beat sergeant and community support officers were for his patch and have direct contact numbers, whereas now he has no idea who they are and has to ring the 101 non-emergency number to try to speak to someone.

Sgt Knight said that he preferred personal contact too and would try to provide the councillors with details of the relevant officers, particularly in the light of recent staffing changes. He also conceded that the ‘101 system is diabolical’.