More police promised for rural Northumberland areas

‘Without a doubt’ residents in rural north Northumberland will see more police on the beat in their communities in the coming months.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 10:32 pm

That was the message delivered to county councillors by Northumbria Police’s Neighbourhood Inspector John Swan, who is responsible for the Alnwick, Berwick and Morpeth areas.

Speaking at a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council on December 19, he told members that recent changes to the force’s operational structure had been a real positive, resulting in more officers for north Northumberland.

Insp Swan explained that, as of November 4, despite his patch having just 22% of the incidents in Northern Area Command (the whole of Northumberland and North Tyneside), it now has 40% of the resources, saying that this was a recognition of the nature of tackling crime across a wide, often remote area.

Some of the new police officers have come from south-east Northumberland and training has been provided to ensure they are up to speed on the specific issues in rural communities.

Previously, officers on the neighbourhood teams had to backfill for the force’s 24-7 service, meaning they could get called away at any point to major incidents, but that is no longer the case.

Plus, starting in the new year, the members of each team – Alnwick, Berwick and Morpeth – will work the same shifts, meaning even better coverage, Insp Swan said.

In response to questions, he confirmed that officers would try to attend town and parish council meetings again, operational issues permitting.

“Going forward, we should have more engagement with the public,” he added.

Coun Gordon Castle asked: “Will residents see the police more often out in public, not just in the towns, but in rural areas?” Insp Swan replied: “Without a doubt.”

He was accompanied at the meeting by the three Neighbourhood Sergeants for his patch – Sharon Wilmore-Greaves (Alnwick), Shona Vickers (Berwick) and Steve Knight (Morpeth) – and this was welcomed as an indication of their commitment to be more available to the community.

Coun Wendy Pattison said that the desire for the police to attend meetings was constantly raised with her by the parish councils in her Longhoughton ward, which includes a number of rural and coastal villages, adding that an important part of policing is reassurance.