Police defend response to Wooler farm theft following criticism

A parish council chairman has expressed disappointment at the police response to a reported theft.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 3:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st October 2019, 2:28 pm
Mark Mather, who farms near Wooler. Picture Jane Coltman

At Wooler Parish Council’s latest meeting, Coun Mark Mather spoke about the theft of a quad bike from his family’s Haugh Head Farm.

“It actually happened about two weeks ago but, personally, I was disappointed at the police response in that we got a phone call about 28 hours later,” he said. “By then the quad could have been in a different country.

“It’s especially disappointing when our new local inspector has told us that they want people in rural areas to know their local police officer. However, if you don’t send a police officer out when there’s been a crime, they are never going to know.”

However, Northumbria Police has revealed it had circulated information about the offence to officers in north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders within 16 minutes of it being reported.

The nature of the incident was assessed and, due to the lack of forensics and CCTV, a decision was taken to follow up with a phone call the following day.

“We take matters of rural crime very seriously,” said Insp John Swan, neighbourhood inspector. “We are doing everything we can to pursue offenders and prevent people from becoming victims of crime.

“We speak to residents and local businesses regularly and we share information on platforms such as Farmwatch to tackle rural crime.”

Parish councillors have also asked for action to be taken on abandoned vehicles, two at Scott’s Park and one on Golden Square. They have been told it is not a Northumberland County Council issue so it was agreed to contact Northumbria Police.

In the monthly police report, it was revealed that two men have been arrested and charged in connection with a burglary at Mike Hope’s garage on August Bank Holiday Monday; inquiries are on-going into two shoplifting offences at the Co-op; boiler had been stolen from a building site and minor assaults had been reported.