New officers in the Berwick sector

Six police officers will take up new posts in the Berwick sector, which includes Belford, Seahouses and Wooler, later this month as part of a drive to combat rising crime levels.

The officers, who are being repatriated from other parts of the force, will bring numbers back to their 2013 levels.

Inspector Davy Garrick, speaking at Berwick’s annual meeting, said the new appointments had been made in response to a 7.5 per cent increase in crime last year.

His first two years in the post at Berwick had seen crime reductions of 20 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively with detection rates of more than 50 per cent.

However, he felt police cuts brought in as part of austerity measures were to blame for the rise last year and the detection rate falling to 48 per cent.

“I had six less officers in the last year because officers had gone and hadn’t been replaced,” he said.

He feared the situation might worsen when the Northumberland and North Tyneside area commands were amalgamated at the start of the current financial year so took action to address the matter.

“It meant I got a new chief superintendent and I took the opportunity to steal a march on the other area inspectors and prepared and presented a dossier of what Berwick was like when I first got here, how it performed in those first two years and how it struggled last year because I felt we were being let down a bit,” he explained.

“The crux of my argument was that if we were in North Shields or Wallsend then you can call on your neighbour and have extra resources in just five minutes. It’s not like that here. It’s nearly an hour down to Alnwick and 66 miles to Tyneside so I put forward a case for Berwick to be reviewed, regardless of austerity and regardless of change, for it to be looked at in a special way.

“The chief super came up to see me and, as of June 15, the six staff who we’d lost over the last year-and-a-half are being replaced. They have been identified and given notices. We will be back up to full complement and that will give me the opportunity to try and get those figures back up again, rebuild and reassure people to get our performance back to what it was.”

In addition, a recruitment drive is about to be launched.

Insp Garrick said: “What needs to happen is a concerted effort to recruit from this area and our HR department is going to organise open days in June and July to try to get new people in. We need fresh blood from this area, that care about this area, that are going to join our force and stay here.”