Text Version - Northumbria Police Annual Report 2004/2005 (English Version) Part two

Alternative Text Version - Northumbria Police Annual Report 2004/2005 (English Version)
Stepping up the pace


Mike Craik, Chief Constable:

The forces crime reduction record over the past 15 years has been achieved through steady progress - but now it's time to step up the pace.

In the future Northumbria Police will continue to do what its good at - arresting criminals and bringing down crime. But we also need to meet the expectations of the public in other areas. My aim is to deliver the service the public wants from us by listening and responding to our communities.

I know people want to feel safer and have less disorder in their neighbourhoods. From here on, we will be judged by how well we do this, just as much as by how much we reduce crime.

I want to make life better for people who stick to the law by being sensitive to victims and caring about communities - but make life tougher for people who break it by taking an unashamedly hard-line approach against criminals and crime.

I want to cut offences even further, reduce disorder and build trust and confidence in the public.

People who break the law will find that we are literally a force to be reckoned with. We will hunt them down and arrest them at every turn, disrupt their activities, get them off the streets, bankrupt them by seeking to seize their criminal assets at every opportunity, not just for serious offences, and use those assets to pay for more frontline policing.

I want to see drunken violence and disorder to go the same way as house burglary and vehicle crime, setting it on a downward spiral to make our streets safer and enable the region to capitalise on the huge benefits of cultural renewal.

This is a tough challenge but I know officers and police staff have the skills and confidence to deliver, at one extreme, the massive security for the recent Labour Party conference or, at the other, the daily work of local neighbourhood policing.

Northumbria Police, backed by a supportive police authority, has the ability to supply total policing which meets all the needs of all our communities throughout Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.


Councillor Mick Henry, Chairman, Northumbria Police Authority:

This has been a year of great change, both for the police force and the police authority.

My police authority colleagues and I are delighted with Mike Craiks appointment as Chief Constable to succeed Crispian Strachan on his retirement. As our Deputy Chief Constable, he was already a well-respected member of a successful crime-fighting team and, not surprisingly, he appears to have hit the ground running, as they say. He has already served notice that the fight against the criminal will be waged with renewed vigour and we therefore look forward to continued success in the near future.

With the retirement this year of our former Chief Constable, Crispian Strachan, the police authority has said goodbye to someone who served the police authority and the people of Northumberland and Tyne and Wear with distinction throughout his seven years in office.

He has left the Northumbria Police force in excellent shape, universally recognised as an extremely efficient and capable force, and one that is more than ready to meet the demands of the 21st century. There can be no greater tribute to Crispians contribution than that.

I believe that one of the major reasons we have been so successful is the very close working relationship between the Chief Constable and the police authority.

We share a profound sense of common purpose. As evidence of this, Northumbria Police recently re-organised its command structure to give itself improved purpose and efficiency. At the same time, the police authority also changed the way it conducts its business, and for exactly the same reasons. The outcome is a single, effective crime-fighting machine, which will give local people the police service they both deserve and expect.

We also agree that a successful police force is one that puts the community and the citizen at the very heart of everything it does, and I know we will be seeing evidence of this as the current year unfolds. Whatever our previous success, we still have much to do - but we are ready to move forward, together.


Chief Officers:

Chief Constable Mike Craik

Deputy Chief Constable David Warcup

Director of Finance and Resources Steve Culkin

Assistant Chief Constable
(Area Operations & Management Services) Kevin Mathieson

Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) John Scott

Assistant Chief Constable (Central Support) Sue Sim


Northumbria Police - facts and figures:

* Sixth biggest police force in England and Wales

* 4,200 officers and 1,500 police staff

* Polices an area of around 2,000 square miles, covering the urban areas of Tyne and Wear and the county of Northumberland

* 599,174 households

* Population of 1.4 million


Area Commands:

Sunderland

South Tyneside

Gateshead

North Tyneside

Newcastle

Northumberland


Fit for the job:

We have restructured the force into six area commands, based on local authority boundaries, with a focus firmly on frontline policing. Motor patrols, the dog section and the Area Support Group (formerly Territorial Support Group) have been devolved to area commands, giving local commanders direct control over specialist resources. Police staff budgets were devolved to area commands from April 2005.

The restructuring has brought more flexible staff deployment, operational diversity and better application of the National Intelligence Model and problem solving.

All area commands have been divided into community policing areas which match local authority structures. They are headed by an inspector with teams of community sergeants, constables and in some areas include Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). We currently have 94 PCSOs who provide a reassuring presence in the communities.

Each area command is headed by a chief superintendent who operates at a strategic level, working with and influencing partners. They are backed up by a minimum of an operations superintendent, community chief inspector, criminal justice chief inspector, crime chief inspector and a business manager supported by a team of senior police staff, including finance and personnel advisors.

The changes demanded an extensive re-structuring of operational computer systems, Airwave talkgroups, e-mail and administrative systems by our in-house IT department.


Retirement:

After more than 32 years in policing, Chief Constable Crispian Strachan retired from the service at the end of March. He joined Northumbria in April 1998 from Strathclyde, where he was Assistant Chief Constable. He was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 1996 and the CBE in 2003.

A graduate entrant to the Metropolitan Police in 1972, Mr Strachan said he could not remember a time when he didn't want to be a police officer, to do something to help other people.

As he bowed out he said: I have been exceptionally fortunate to be happy and fulfilled in just about every job I've done because it has been serving the public. So much of what the public read about in books and find enthralling - I've actually been there.


Only 12p a day:

One of the most efficient police forces in the country

Our annual budget for 2004/5 was almost 250 million - costing most householders around only 12p per day for one of the most efficient police forces in the country. The budget rose by 9 million over the previous year, including an extra 6 million to guarantee existing high levels of service.

Police authority members agreed to invest almost 3 million in a range of new initiatives, including the recruitment of more police staff to allow police officers to return to frontline policing and funding for a huge increase in DNA testing to improve detection rates and help solve many more crimes.

The budget meant a 4.9% increase in the amount paid by council tax payers to Northumbria Police Authority, which maintained the authoritys position of levying the lowest precept of any police authority in England and Wales.

Members agreed a capital programme of almost 14 million for future spending on premises as part of a forcewide estates strategy. Further investments in IT were made to capitalise on Airwave, the digital radio communications system, and over 1 million was set aside to cover our share of a second helicopter for the North East Air Support Unit to replace the fixed wing aircraft. Funding continued for the gradual replacement of Ford Fiesta patrol cars with the Ford Focus.

Northumbria Police Authority welcomed news that a further 52 PCSOs were to be recruited. The Home Office pays the full costs of employing these staff during 2005/6, with only 25% of their salary to be met by Northumbria Police Authority in 2006/7.

The authority approved a financial contribution of 1,000 towards the building and maintenance costs of the National Police Memorial in The Mall, London, which commemorates police officers killed in the execution of their duty. The Roll of Honour will include Sergeant Bill Forth, who was stabbed to death in Sunniside, Gateshead, in 1993. The Police Memorial Trust erected a memorial to him in Sunniside and he was posthumously awarded the Queens Commendation for Brave Conduct.

Members agreed to make a contribution of 8,712 to Crimestoppers on behalf of the six local authorities in the Northumbria Police area after a pilot scheme to increase its hours of operation led to more than 100 extra arrests.

Without the information passed to Crimestoppers, many of the offences detected would have remained unsolved or would have involved more investigation by police officers.

A donation of 10,904 was made to the six Victim Support schemes operating in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear to support their voluntary work with victims of crime. The money came from the sale of property held by Northumbria Police which had either not been claimed by its owner, or where ownership could not be established. A total of 21,808 was available for distribution in 2004/5, with the Finance Committee agreeing to divide it between support schemes and the force charities fund. New ways of doing business

Northumbria Police Authority has made a number of changes to the way it does its business, giving members more responsibility by making changes to the committee structure, allowing committees to make more decisions, speeding up the decision-making process and ensuring police authority meetings focus on the bigger issues.

Lead Members have been appointed with specific responsibilities for particular issues, such as Community Engagement, Diversity and Performance Management, again to speed up decision-making and enhance members skills.

New committees include the Community Engagement Committee which will be responsible for Police and Community forum meetings, custody visiting and consultation matters, and the Resource Management Committee which looks after finance, human resources, computer and IT issues and CCTV.


Jargon buster:

ABA - Acceptable Behaviour Order

ASBO - Anti Social Behaviour Order

ANPR - Automatic Number Plate Recognition

CBM - Community Beat Manager

CCTV - Closed circuit television

CPS - Crown Prosecution Service

PCSO - Police Community Support Officer

RGN - Registered General Nurse

SIO - Senior Investigating Officer


On an average day Northumbria Police:

* receives 5,674 phone calls

* handles 592 '999' calls

* deals with 1,669 incidents

* investigates 389 crimes

* makes 230 arrests

* travels 46,000 miles

* attends 13 road collisions

* administers 26 breath tests

* records 126 fingerprints

* takes 48 DNA samples


Crime down 9.5%:

Crime fell by 9.5% across the Northumbria Police area in 2004/5. The total number of recorded offences dropped from 157,051 to 142,122. Highlights include:

* house burglary down 23%

* vehicle crime down 11%

* violent crime down 7%

* robberies down 4%

* racist offences down 9%.

The overall detection rate is down from 30.3% to 28.6%, but officers solve 54% of all violent crime, 37% of racist offences and 97% of drug offences.

We made 84,111 arrests. Of those arrested for criminal offences, 57% were charged, summonsed, cautioned or had offences taken into consideration.

Since offences in Northumbria peaked in 1991, total crime has dropped by 32%, with even steeper falls for burglary and car crime - both down a staggering 75%.

We attribute our success in maintaining continuous decreases to:

* targeting known offenders

* knowing the crime and disorder hotspots

* focusing on potential victims in conjunction with partners and other criminal justice agencies.

Northumbria Police was singled out by the Home Office last year as one of the best performers in the country and awarded a green light by the Audit Commission for our compliance with National Crime Recording Standards.

The force is regarded as the best for updating arrests and court results onto the Police National Computer and our computer systems are ready to exchange data with the Criminal Records Bureau in line with recommendations from the Bichard Enquiry.

Scores of people who skipped bail were arrested during the national Turn up campaign which forms part of the Northumbria Criminal Justice Board drive to narrow the justice gap between the number of crimes committed and the level of people dealt with at court. Over 100 people ignored a warning to surrender and were arrested, others got in touch to arrange their court appearance.

A total of 13 people have now been convicted for 18 offences or rape or serious sex assault as a result of work done by Northumbria's Cold Case Review Unit, formerly known as Operation Phoenix.

Evidence collected from the original scene of the offence is revisited and subject to new forensic analysis by techniques which were not available when the crime was committed.

Funding from the Home Office Police Standards Unit is helping with developmental work and further serious crimes could be re-opened. The concept has become a blueprint for 'cold case' reviews nationally and internationally.

Joint location of police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) staff within police stations has created new working practices for both organisations. Statutory charging, which allows officers to gain early legal advice so the correct decision can be made about the future direction of any case, operates in all our custody suites.

We work closely with the CPS to improve the timeliness and quality of court files and increase the number of offenders brought to justice. We are piloting Conditional Cautions where, as an alternative to prosecution, the offender may be given a caution accompanied by a reparative or rehabiliative condition.

* 1,940 fingerprint identifications

* 1,412 DNA identifications

* 108 arrests from Automatic Number Plate Recognition


Second helicopter:

A new 3.7 million EC135 Eurocopter has replaced the North East Air Support Unit Islander plane, giving Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland forces a second helicopter.

A best value review of the unit determined that replacing the plane with a second helicopter would provide greater operational flexibility and an equal service across the region as well as add greater flexibility in the co-ordination of pilots and helicopter maintenance. The Home Office granted 1.5 million towards its purchase.

The unit assists with searches and escorts, carries out surveillance of major incidents or disorder, provides aerial photographs and video footage and can also transport specialist units or casualties in need of urgent medical help.


Highest ever drugs seizures - 9.5 million:

Northumbria Police is committed to reducing the harm caused by drug misuse and in 2004/5 was successful in disrupting some major distribution networks, seizing drugs with a street value of 9.5 million - the most ever recovered by the force.

Although the bulk seizures were cannabis, trafficking in Class A drugs is still a significant problem, influencing a broad spectrum of crime from the highly organised criminal gangs to the petty thief looking for the next fix. The majority of drugs are believed to enter the force area from the south, though the possibility of people bringing in small amounts through any port or airport still exists.

Drug trafficking fuels acquisitive crime as dealers will accept anything they can turn quickly into cash mobile phones, computer games, DVDs and CDs remain common payment for a 10 dose of drugs. Shampoo, razors and coffee are also popular, as they are easy to sell without raising too much attention. Many children now carry mobiles and, unfortunately, can be easy targets for thieves.

A total of 203, 965, which will be used by the force in the fight against drug abuse, was forfeit by 30 offenders convicted of drugs offences. Another 426,977 was confiscated from them and will be returned to the government.

We appointed a Drugs Co-ordinator and developed a dynamic action plan compatible with the National Drug Strategy. By adopting an intelligence-led approach and working in partnership through the Northumbria Drugs Alliance, the action plan aims to:

* reduce the availability of drugs by using the National Intelligence Model to target dealers and put them out of business

* prevent people from using drugs by supporting a wide range of measures including prohibition, education, support and targeted interventions for them and their families

* reduce and rehabilitate existing users by supporting the effective treatment, aftercare support and rehabilitation to break the cycle of addiction.

* reduce the harm caused to communities by using every opportunity to provide treatment and rehabilitation to people committing crimes to finance their habit.


Profile Licensing Officer - Nicole Theobald:

This year promises to be a challenging one for Northumbria's licensing officers with the advent of 24-hour licensing.

But it's one to which Gateshead licensing officer Nicole Theobald is looking forward. She has been in the post since August 2003, although she joined Northumbria five years ago, and is our only licensing officer who is a member of police staff and not a police officer.

Her work brings her into contact with licensees at the borough's 680 pubs, clubs and off licences.

She deals with existing licensing laws and the new ones which come into force in November 2005 allowing applications for 24-hour opening hours.

Nicole said: "This is an interesting and busy time and things are changing so much. With my job I come into contact with so many people and I'm building up good working relationships with the various businesses and organisations I come into contact with.

"The new laws will result in some premises seeking longer opening hours but for the most part premises are not interested in being open 24 hours - people running businesses have lives too.

"There are some concerns over the possible effect the longer opening hours could have on binge drinking and alcohol fuelled disorder.

"But we will be able to apply for reviews on licences where we feel premises are not being well managed.

"Conditions can be agreed or imposed which gives more scope than the current system where revocation is the only option."

While the number of licensed premises aren't likely to increase, Nicole is expecting to deal with up to 1,500 licence applications this year as every licence has to be renewed for businesses to be able to trade. These will include the newly introduced personal licences which will last for ten years.

Her work involves background checks on licence applicants, face-to-face interviews, providing expert advice to applicants and police officers, co-ordinating and setting up Pub Watch schemes and working with door supervisors.

And it doesn't end there as she also deals with house to house permits and makes checks for pedlar certificates, scrap metal dealers, motor salvage operators and permits for people wanting to make street collections.

SUNDERLAND

Area Commander Chief Superintendent Jim Campbell:

* Crime down 12%

* Car crime down 21%

* Drugs offences down 18%

* House burglary down 19%

* Racist crime down 12%

Sunderland Area Command has focused resources on community policing, putting more officers on frontline patrols where they can been seen and contacted by residents and businesses.

There was a steady fall in reported crime, with total offences down by 12% and notable successes against car crime, which fell by 21%, drugs offences down 18%, house burglary down 19% and racist crime down 12%.

Other priorities include tackling anti-social behaviour by working with partners and targeting the supply of drugs.

Operation Gryphon, a long term initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour including underage drinking, graffiti, vandalism and youth disorder has been at the heart of this approach. It aims to change the behaviour of individuals by targeting hot spot areas and repeat offenders. In the first three months, 12 ASBOs were granted by magistrates against persistent offenders.

Officers issued 758 letters to parents of young people stopped for their anti-social behaviour, often involving drinking. Where necessary, officers seized drink and disposed of it. Many parents contacted police to discuss their child's behaviour and express support for the police intervention.

Officers are working with Trading Standards officers to discover where the alcohol was bought and licensees who are found to have sold alcohol to children may have their licence revoked.

Community Beat Managers (CBMs) are offering help and support to residents and arresting offenders in areas which have suffered several incidents of disorder and other reports of anti-social behaviour.

Operation Axe hit hard at drugs suppliers in the Hendon, Castletown and Houghton-le-Spring areas in September as 26 people were arrested. Drugs with a street value of 3,500 were seized together with around 10,000 cash and five vehicles.

Operation Axe matched enforce-ment of the law in making arrests with seeking treatment for drug abusers. Those arrested were charged with conspiracy to supply drugs and referred to other agencies working with Northumbria Police to tackle drugs misuse, including Sunderland's Drug Action Team.

Officers believe this is a more effective long term method of tackling drug abuse than enforcement alone.

In Operation Jericho in January, drugs with a street value of 1 million including cocaine, ecstasy tablets and cannabis were seized in Easington Lane. A man was charged with possession with intent to supply Class A and C drugs.

More than 12,500 primary pupils are collecting cards for a wallchart featuring their local CBMs, police vehicles and dogs plus crime prevention tips and facts about the force. Teachers and police officers reward pupils good behaviour and good classwork with a card. The first child at each school to collect all 15 cards wins a Vtech computer.

Six inspectors took up new posts in October to supervise 12 teams of uniformed CBMs who are responsible for community policing across Sunderland. These teams work out of the communities they serve, often within schools, so that they are closer to the public and their needs.

Twenty one PCSOs work alongside the CBMs to supply an additional uniformed presence. They have been in the right place at the right time to make arrests for offences and are improving the quality of life for many residents.


Burglary gang jailed for 30 years:

Detectives successfully brought to justice a Sunderland gang which committed burglaries country-wide.

Operation Lasso led a to a nine-strong gang being jailed for more than 30 years for 40 burglaries.

A woman was sentenced to a four-month nightly home curfew order for money laundering.

The gang was responsible for more than 150,000 worth of burglaries from garages, off-licences and shops spanning 14 police areas. Detectives filed evidence including CCTV, fingerprints and speed camera data which linked burglaries in Hampshire, Leicester, Nottingham, Yorkshire, Manchester and Wales.

The gang would split into two groups and prey on lone garage attendants and shop assistants. One part of the gang engaged staff in conversation as others ransacked store rooms, stealing cash, cigarettes and mobile phone top-up cards. Detectives arrested them in June during a series of dawn raids at their homes.


Profile Senior Investigating Officer - Detective Superintendent Barbara Franklin:

Barbara Franklin made history when she was promoted to detective superintendent in 2004.

As Northumbria's first female senior investigating officer (SIO), she joined the ranks of detectives who lead murder enquiries - still a traditionally male-dominated world despite the huge gains made by women officers in other fields of the profession.

Detective Superintendent Franklin, 44, is one of the force's two detective superintendents who oversee the work of the four homicide chief inspectors and will themselves take charge of more complex murder investigations.

She joined Northumbria in 1982 after completing a business studies and marketing degree at the former Newcastle Polytechnic. She worked as a patrol officer for two years before joining the force's first Child Protection Unit. She then went on to train as a detective, being promoted to detective inspector in 1996, followed by chief inspector then superintendent.

She has worked on some of the region's biggest crimes and come face to face with some of the region's most violent criminals.

One of her most satisfactory cases as a detective inspector was in 1998, when she worked on a six-month investigation which led to the conviction of six Blyth heroin dealers and prison sentences totalling 24 years.

Since promotion to superintendent she has headed a number of murder enquiries, including the shooting of Sunderland pensioner Fred Fowler and the double killing in Sunderland of two men by a paranoid schizophrenic.

"The job satisfaction is immense - there's no other job I can think of in the world which I would rather do," she says.

"The satisfaction of investigating the murder of someone's loved one and bringing the offender to justice is second to none."

Barbara is also one of the force's 12 trained negotiators. She can be called on at any time to coax a suicidal person away from the edge of a bridge or talk a kidnapper into freeing hostages.

And she has a leading role in ensuring that Northumbria Police provides effective family liaison to the victims of serious crime and their families.

None of which has any relevance to the original reason why Barbara wanted to be a police officer - as a horse-mad youngster she simply wanted to join the mounted section. Horse riding is still with her, but only as a leisure pursuit with her two children.


SOUTH TYNESIDE

Area Commander Chief Superintendent Dave Pryer:

* Crime down 10%

* Car crime down 7%

* House burglary down 23%

* Racist crime down 10%

South Tyneside is an area of great contrast, a mix of bustling town and shopping centres with a traditional seaside resort and its historic settings.

Community policing and engagement has been a major focus for South Tyneside and every local authority area forum now has a community team. Police officers assigned to each ward supply a visible and reassuring presence and develop strong links with their communities.

While overall crime fell by 10%, there was a 23% drop in house burglary, a 7% decrease in car crime and 10% fewer racist incidents.

Three community inspectors were introduced as part of a renewed commitment to tackling crime and disorder, concentrating on multi-agency work and building closer links with communities. Some of their work targets offenders in specific areas.

In September 2004 resources from police, council, drug and arson teams focused their efforts on Boldon Colliery where youth disorder, house burglaries, under-age drinking and criminal damage were causing problems. The operation also involved a clean up of the village and crime prevention advice.

An operation at Boldon Comprehensive School helped to cut criminal damage after 46,000 worth of windows were smashed. Temporary video cameras were installed at the school while officers in plain clothes used handheld video recorders to gather evidence.

Six juveniles were arrested with one convicted and another given a reprimand. Decisions are pending on the remaining youths. The level of damage dropped dramatically, along with the amount of money lost and the inconvenience to the school.

The area command obtained 23 ASBOs, some of which last until 2009. Officers have worked closely with the local authority to combat problems of underage drinking and truancy. During Operation Kindle, 92 children were found out of school without authority. More than 70 letters were also sent out to parents and guardians about disorder, drugs and alcohol.

Officers have been able to gather evidence for a variety of incidents and record anti-social behaviour in West Shields thanks to cameras fitted to cycle helmets.
More than 1,000 sessions with 28,412 children aged between nine and 11 were held as part of a three-year educational project putting citizenship under the spotlight. Officers worked with children to discuss topics such as bullying, race-awareness, alcohol and drug misuse, crime and disorder.

Closer links with primary school children were forged in Laygate and Rekendyke when CBMs joined an after school club to teach children team sports. They worked with a group of boisterous youngsters to demonstrate the benefits of team work.

Holidays bring with them a higher number of visitors to all seaside resorts - together with associated problems of disorder and alcohol-related crime. Historically an influx of revellers on Good Friday, the start of the summer fair season, has heralded a rise in crime.

The area command now matches this with an annual one-day clampdown on rowdiness and drink-related behaviour which has cut under-age drinking, thefts and public order related offences.

Another 'no crime day' brought 29 arrests, 50 summonses and visits to 15 licensed premises.


Drugs arrests:

High profile operations led to the seizure of large amounts of drugs and cash. Operation Gigantic cleared the streets of 1kg of amphetamines valued at more than 10,000. Shortly afterwards, another 20,000 of cocaine and amphetamines was recovered in Operation Game. This resulted in one arrest and subsequently a five year jail sentence.

In January, four arrests were made after 30,000 of drugs were found together with 5,000 cash. An account with 20,000 was also frozen and other assets considered for seizure and financial investigation. A JCB, power boat and machinery tools were some of the items of recovered property following property searches. Weapons such as BB guns, a loaded hand gun and a stun gun were also seized.


Bus driver rapist jailed:

A South Tyneside bus driver who took advantage of a woman passenger and raped her on his bus was jailed for eight years in November.

The offence happened in December 2003 when William Mark Yeeles kept a 19-year-old on his bus at the end of his shift, drove off his normal route and attacked her. At first the teenager was reluctant to report the attack to police but she was referred to a R.E.A.C.H. centre by her family doctor and her parents encouraged her to contact the police.

Yeeles, 35, protested his innocence, claiming alibis and that the victim consented - but his claims were disproved and he was convicted. The bus company has since reviewed its recruitment procedures.

R.E.A.C.H.- the Rhona Cross Centre in Newcastle (0191 212 1551) and The Ellis Fraser Centre in Sunderland (0191 565 3725) provide free, confidential, counselling, advice and support to both female and male victims of serious sexual assault aged 16 or over.


Profile Custody Sergeant - Sergeant Harninder Bola:

Sergeant Harninder Bola oversees the Management of Offenders project in South Tyneside, one of three Northumbria Police pilot sites where the custody process has been streamlined and jobs traditionally done by police officers are now carried out by police staff. The project has released the equivalent of 91 police officers to concentrate on fighting crime.

The force was awarded 4.5 million under the Workforce Modernisation programme to pilot new custody procedures in South Tyneside, Bedlington and Newcastle. In all, 93 posts were created, including detention officers, investigation officers, file builders, offender managers and support clerks.

Sgt Bola supervises the work of the Detention Officers and Custody Investigation Officers who process prisoners who are arrested and brought to South Shields police station.

"This new system cuts down on the amount of time officers spend dealing with suspects in the police station. It frees them up to spend more time on frontline policing duties which benefit the whole community," he says.

Sgt Bola, who has eight years service, says: "Custody is a complex area and my job is to ensure that cases are investigated effectively and that all my staff have the necessary knowledge and training to undertake their role successfully.

"Its difficult to predict just how busy we will be and we have to ensure that detainees are properly looked after. Many of those we arrest are under the influence of drink or drugs and detention officers are also trained to be on the look out for signs of mental health problems.

Custody staff conduct a risk assessment to ensure that individuals are fit enough to be detained and are provided with the appropriate level of care. If we are in any doubt we will call a doctor and if necessary will transfer them to hospital for treatment. The cell complex has a number of CCTV cameras and we make regular checks on those we arrest to ensure they are safe and well during the time they spend in our care.


GATESHEAD

Area Commander Chief Superintendent Allan Curry:

* Crime down 15%

* Car theft down 26%

* House burglary down 42%

Gateshead's profile has risen to an unprecedented level thanks to the growing reputation of its landmarks - the Angel of the North, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the Baltic centre for contemporary art and the highly acclaimed music centre, The Sage Gateshead.

As well as attracting visitors from all over the world, the borough is home to more than 198,000 people and a workplace for thousands more.

While this brought fresh demands for area command staff, crime has continued to fall - down by 15% with most crime categories showing a downturn. Theft of cars alone took a 26% cent nosedive while house burglary fell by 42%.

Residents in Gateshead woke on New Year's Eve 2003 to news that the UK's most wanted criminal - American born David Bieber - had been arrested in Dunston overnight. Bieber, who was later jailed for life following a trial in Newcastle, was wanted for the murder of PC Ian Broadhurst, shot while on duty in West Yorkshire on Boxing Day. He is still wanted in the USA for serious offences.

Just weeks later a car containing a toddler, the daughter of an off-duty police officer, was hijacked following an armed robbery at Costco. The incident, where officers were also threatened with a sawn-off shotgun, shocked even the north east's criminal fraternity. The mother of the two-year-old later described the incident as the worst experience of her life.

While no-one was hurt, the potential for injury or death - especially following the Bieber incident - was not lost on the investigating team whose case was brought to a successful conclusion with the jailing of two men for a total of 35 years.

Fifteen thousand people went along to the area command's open day in Saltwell Park in August 2004 to share the multi agency work which goes on between police and partners in Gateshead.

During school holidays, youth issues officers held several Offbeat events aimed at keeping children occupied and out of trouble. The programme, in which over 5,000 youngsters took part, featured football, basketball training, art and craft work and soft ball games.

It is just one example of where Gateshead works with partner organisations. The area command joined forces with ADT Fire and Security and Gateshead Council's community safety department to produce 120,000 colourful beer mats containing simple crime prevention messages. These were used forcewide in bars, pubs and restaurants.

The area command also worked with the local authority Road Safety Team, writing to every parent in the borough encouraging them not to create danger by parking outside schools. Officers also visited 20 schools encouraging parents and children to seek alternatives to the car.

The introduction of PCSOs into Gateshead aims to increase public reassurance. Working with regular officers and the Special Constabulary, they provide a co-ordinated response to the needs and concerns of the public.

This visibility was boosted in November 2004 when the area command took delivery of a mobile police station. It tours different venues across the borough, offering people who are some distance from a police station the chance to call in for information and advice.

Extra patrols over the festive period helped crime drop by almost a quarter in Gateshead town centre. From November to January 2005, as part of the forcewide Freeze Out campaign, the number of crimes fell to 88 compared to 116 for the same period in 2003, with thefts from the person down by 55%. There were 34 arrests, mainly for retail crime but including drug related matters, disorder, warrants and offensive weapons.

The towns comprehensive CCTV system was used to monitor activity and alert staff to ongoing incidents. The operation was helped by an alcohol ban, introduced in the town centre by the local authority, which reassures the public and helps reduce the fear of crime.

At the start of 2005 the MetroCentre - and the police officers working there - became the focus of a BBC programme following life in Europes busiest out of town shopping centre. The fly-on-the-wall documentary included the work carried out by the small police team based there.


Off licence robbers jailed:

When a series of robberies at off licences and late opening shops across Tyneside became progressively more violent, a small team of Gateshead officers was brought together to investigate.

As Operation Licence progressed it soon became apparent that those committing the robberies in Gateshead and Newcastle were also involved in street robberies, burglaries and car thefts using weapons such as hammers, spanners and baseball bats.

Officers seized 1,000 exhibits, worked closely with the Forensic Science Service and interviewed hundreds of witnesses to bring the case to trial. Between them, six men and two women admitted charges of robbery, burglary, handling stolen goods, theft, assisting an offender, assaults, theft from the person and aggravated vehicle taking.

Jail sentences totalling 30 years were handed out. The number of violent robberies in the area command fell significantly after the offenders were taken out of circulation.


Profile Coroners Officer - Alan Kirk:

Dealing with death is not an easy business but it's all in a day's work for coroner's officer Alan Kirk.

Last year alone he and colleague Jan Ives dealt with around 1,500 deaths in and around Gateshead, including sudden deaths, all deaths at the QE Hospital and any cases with police involvement.

It's a demanding role which involves dealing with a myriad of relatives, members of the public, medical staff and police.

And it's not a job for anyone who's squeamish as each death demands attending a post mortem examination where notes are taken detailing everything from what the person is wearing to the cause of death.

The job - which includes an on-call service - also involves assisting the pathologist and coroner with their enquiries, liaising with relatives, police, family GPs, funeral directors and witnesses for any inquest.

Alan has worked as a coroner's officer for Northumbria for the past 19 years, spending three years at South Shields before moving to Gateshead. Before this he worked as a mortuary technician for six years where he came joint top nationally after sitting his Diploma in Anatomical Pathology Technology.

"Death is not something everyone can deal with but in a strange way you do get used to it. Obviously there are some exceptions - I never get used to a child's death and some just stick in your memory for a variety of reasons.

"You learn through experience how to deal with bereaved families and we do build up a rapport, having a lot of direct contact with them. You help take families step by step to closure at the earliest possible point.

"But it is a job which never gets me down. You meet so many nice people, unfortunately at the wrong time in their life, but it is so rewarding when you can do something for them when they need it most."


NORTH TYNESIDE

Area Commander Chief Superintendent Jim Peacock:

* Crime down 7%

* House burglary down 20%

* Sexual offences down 16%

It has been a busy time for policing in North Tyneside where the combination of coast, river, urban areas and popular nightspots demands a careful balancing act to satisfy everyones needs.

The total number of offences recorded fell by 7% and the area command achieved particular success against house burglary, down 20%, and sexual offences which bucked the trend elsewhere in the force and fell by 16%.

New uniforms were seen on the streets with the introduction of PCSOs who work seven days a week across the borough.

The team of six transport PCSOs, funded by the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, are working across the public transport system including the Metro, bus routes and stops, taxi stands and cycle ways. They work closely with Nexus and their Travel Support Officers on the Metro system, focusing on any problems which may arise.

Community Sector Inspectors were introduced with responsibility for specific areas, making an immediate impact with partner agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour and disorder.

Scores of troublemakers ended up with restrictions on their activities. Across North Tyneside more than 30 ASBOs were secured. Six involved severe restrictions on a group of youngsters who attacked a man at Whitley Bay Metro station. All of these youths were also given custodial sentences.

More than 170 ABAs are also in force. A landmark was reached this year in North Shields with the signing of the sector's 100th ABA under the Safer Estates Partnership, where police work closely with the local authority to target people who persistently commit crime and disorder in the area.

In Forest Hall, the strong partnership forged with local authority and other social landlords led to the community policing unit securing 12 ASBOs and 28 ABAs, with more in the pipeline.

This partnership approach proved successful in Burradon and Camperdown where an anti-social behaviour forum was set up to improve community relationships.

In June two community link workers started in Wallsend, with the aim of improving relationships with minority ethnic communities. One notable success was the arrest of a girl responsible for repeated harassment of a family living in Willington Quay.

Intelligence-led initiatives in Longbenton, which focused on certain streets experiencing increased criminal damage and disorder, led to a big drop in offences.

Operation Busby was set-up in North Shields to tackle alcohol-related youth disorder by targeting youngsters who were buying drink at off-licences and adults buying drink on their behalf. Legislation was introduced preventing alcohol being drunk in Tynemouth Front Street.

Business continues to boom in North Tyneside. In the constantly expanding Silverlink and Cobalt business parks a Shopwatch scheme and exclusion initiative to bar criminals from the area led to the lowest retail crime figures for a decade.

Residents and shoppers enjoyed free security giveaways over the past year when hundreds of purse alarms were given to the elderly to help prevent thefts and robberies. Shed bars were also given out to help cut down on the number of break-ins to outbuildings.

Security surveys were routinely carried out by CBMs to reduce repeat victimisation, an example being the Sita waste disposal site in Percy Main where a complex crime prevention analysis was carried. Crime and disorder fell substantially as a result.

The Public Protection Unit obtained a Sexual Offences Prevention Order preventing a man with a 30-year history of offences against children approaching or communicating with any child or young person. Another 38-year-old man was jailed for life for sexual offences against a child.

A major issue in Whitley Bay is disorder around the night time economy. More than 250 arrests were made in the streets where the bulk of pubs and clubs are located and officers worked to restrict an increase in licensed premises. In conjunction with residents and the local authority, police objected to the redevelopment of a care home on Whitley Bay sea front into another theme pub.

Officers on bikes were a common sight as CBMs patrolled the streets with helmet-mounted cameras to gather evidence.


Pensioner brutally attacked:

People in Shiremoor rallied around when a terminally-ill pensioner was attacked during a burglary.

Villagers reported sightings, suggested names and offered rewards after Mrs Mary Richardson, 81, was attacked in her home in Stanton Road. Mrs Richardson was taken to hospital but died before ever returning home, although her death could not be linked to the assault.

Over 100 officers worked round-the-clock and a combination of information from the public and detailed scientific work led them to Barry Alderson, a known drug user who had recently moved to Shiremoor from the Midlands.

Alderson, 23, was later jailed for life for burglary and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The judge described the attack on Mrs Richardson as sustained and ferocious and said her home had been callously ransacked.


Students killer traced through DNA:

A long-running murder investigation ended in October when Michael Robinson was jailed for life for killing student Sara Cameron four years earlier.

Sara, 23, was found murdered in a field near her home in Earsdon in April 2000. A huge investigation immediately got underway, with teams of detectives painstakingly creating a picture of Sara, her life, her friends and her movements in the hours and months before she died.

Sara died as she made her way home from an evening out with friends in Newcastle, travelling on the Metro and getting off at Shiremoor for the short walk home. Some clothes and belongings were found in the Den, a wooded area nearby, which led police to believe that whoever killed her was familiar with fields and tracks in the area.

A crucial line of the enquiry centred on the DNA profile of a man who was at the scene of Sara's murder. This led to a mass DNA screening in which more than 5,000 men from the North Tyneside area gave swabs for analysis.

No match was found but the profile was entered on the national DNA database where, in February 2004, a match was made with coach driver Michael Robinson, 30, who had been arrested for a minor offence of criminal damage.

Robinson, originally from North Shields, was traced to an address in East Sussex where he was arrested and returned to the North East. He denied any involvement in Saras death until confronted with the DNA evidence after which he admitted what he had done.

In addition to the life sentence, Robinson was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

The enquiry team, headed by Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Bolam:

* conducted over 8,000 house-to-house enquiries

* spoke to over 1,500 people familiar with the Den

* took nearly 4,000 witness statements

* studied hundreds of hours of CCTV footage

* amassed nearly 5,000 exhibits.

NEWCASTLE

Area Commander Chief Superintendent Chris Machell:

* Crime down 8%

* Violent crime down 7%

* House burglary down 10%

* Racist offences down 23%

* Drugs offences down 22%

From party city to pomp and ceremony, the ever-changing face of Newcastle continues to bring fresh challenges and opportunities for policing.

High-profile trials, international football matches and Newcastle's world-wide reputation as a great place to visit all affect policing but the area has remained a very safe place for residents, workers and visitors.

Crime fell by 8%, including a 7% drop in violent crime, 10% reduction in house burglary and a fall of 23% in racist offences. Drugs offences dropped by 22%.

Among the initiatives introduced this year, Northumbria Police and Your Homes Newcastle, working with other partners, set up the city's first Anti Social Behaviour Unit. The unit has already secured seven ASBOs with many more in the pipeline.

The unit is made up of a team of an inspector, sergeant and four constables and 11 staff from Your Homes Newcastle, managers of the city's 32,000 council homes. A Victim Support officer, a City Council security manager and a legal team funded by the Community Safety Partnership complete the unit.

During the summer and at Christmas, police in Newcastle joined a range of partners to combat alcohol-related crime and disorder.

With alcohol-related harm costing the country around 20 billion a year, Newcastle Area Command joined the National Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign to clamp down on the illegal selling and irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

Officers worked with local authority licensing and Trading Standards teams as well as pubs and retailers in a targeted enforcement programme to tackle sales to underage people, people who are drunk or premises serving beyond licensed hours.

The west end of the city has nine PCSOs, the first time the officers have been introduced in Newcastle. Five patrol West Denton while four work in Benwell. They will be joined by a further 25 PCSOs who will work in Throckley, Kenton, Walker and Arthurs Hill. The ultimate aim is to have these officers working in all areas of the city, reassuring residents and helping reduce crime and disorder.

The area command scooped a trio of awards for officers and staff working in the west end. PC Paul Westwood was named the force's Community Police Officer of the Year while Sgt Paul Hamilton won a national award for his work in North Benwell.

The Community Reassurance Unit, which forges closer links with minority communities in Newcastle, also won praise from the RaceActionNet website for its work in supporting victims, witnesses and communities. The website is used by over 800 organisations working in the field of hate crime and aims to share best practice and highlight good work in the UK.

The city was in the national spotlight in April 2004 when a large-scale exercise tested the region's readiness for a major incident. A total of 100 officers from across the force took part in Operation Magpie which simulated a chemical attack. The officers involved were all trained in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incident handling procedures.

Their duties involved cordoning off the scene of the incident, reassuring 'casualties', co-ordinating their movements and processing discarded clothing and other personal items. The exercise attracted major media interest and was a good opportunity for agencies to come together to test their capabilities.

Newcastle is obviously familiar with looking after more than 50,000 football fans each week and in August 2004 officers policed an England international versus the Ukraine. The home side went on to win 3-0 and the event passed off peacefully.

Last summer also saw the first Newcastle-Gateshead cup, a four team competition involving Newcastle, Glasgow Rangers, Sporting Lisbon and PSV Eindhoven, attracting thousands of football fans from home and across Europe.

Tackling drug misuse and drug dealers continued to be a priority, with numerous seizures of all types of drugs across the city. The biggest of these came in October 2004 when officers from Crime Team South stopped a lorry in the Newburn area containing almost a tonne of cannabis resin with a street value of 2.8 million. Four people were charged with conspiracy to supply controlled drugs.

As well as real officers patrolling the streets, Newcastle was used as the setting for two police drama serials. 55 Degrees North, shown on prime-time BBC, featured numerous landmarks of the city and beyond and was so successful a second series is in the pipeline. Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green and filmed on Tyneside, also returned to ITV.


New Year murder mystery solved:

A murder investigation started on New Year's Day 2004 began with an unidentified victim and, apparently, no witnesses. But a combination of good police work and a sequence of discoveries led to a man being jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court.

The victim was identified as John Wells, 55, a quiet man who had gone to buy beer from a pub in Jesmond Road. He was stabbed in the neck and staggered along Goldspink Lane where he died.
Following a media appeal, a witness came forward and helped produce an artists impression of the killer. Another call from the public led officers to a flower bed where they found a knife which turned out to be the murder weapon.

It was identical to one missing from a flat half mile away from the murder scene. Heroin addict Adam Richardson, 23, of no fixed address, had been squatting there and was identified by fingerprints and his name on a box of medication.

The Forensic Science Service said a spot of blood on Richardson's shoes belonged to Mr Wells. Richardson's jacket, which also bore Mr Wells blood, was later recovered. He only admitted murder on the day his trial was about to begin.


Correct use of baton round:

Northumbria Police was found to have acted correctly when it fired a baton gun operationally for the first time.

Officers had gone to Sandringham Road, Gosforth where residents reported a man behaving violently and threatening another with a firearm. Following numerous attempts to make contact with him, officers entered his bedsit and were confronted by the man who was holding a firearm.

One baton round was discharged by an authorised firearms officer which hit the man in the stomach. He was arrested and taken by ambulance to Newcastle General Hospital for treatment for bruising.

Humberside Police investigated the discharge on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and found it necessary, appropriate and proportionate for firearms officers to deal with the incident in the way they did. They concluded that the officers performed their duties in a professional manner.


Profile Community Beat Manager - Sergeant Paul Rae:

One hour he can be patrolling the streets of Newcastle, the next reassuring residents at a community meeting.

With a growing emphasis on community policing, Sergeant Paul Rae and his team work closely with residents across the north of Newcastle, as well as maintaining close links with partner agencies in the city.

Sgt Rae, who has 25 years service, looks after a team of 13 officers including four based at Newcastle Airport, two Traffic Wardens and two Special Constables.

The team, formed in the summer of 2004, works from 8am to midnight seven days a week and has already proved to be popular with the communities it serves.

Sgt Rae said: "The main difference compared with working as a shift sergeant is that we have more time to look at long-term problems and solutions, rather than attending one job, dealing with it and immediately moving on to the next task.

"At the start of each day I will task the officers with the issues they need to be looking at on top of their general patrols. This can range from visiting a shopkeeper who has had problems, to organising a surgery where people can come along and raise issues."

Plans are also underway to set up police offices in a local high school and a nearby hospital, meaning officers will have bases in the heart of their communities.

Sgt Rae said: "A lot of my work is about exchanging information, whether meeting with Nexus about the policing of Metro stations, members of the business community or Newcastle City Council to see how we can work together in tackling crime.

"A testament to the value of the work we've done is reflected in the number of thank you letters from the public, which really shows people are responding positively to the work we are doing in the community. It's a real team effort."

NORTHUMBERLAND

Area Commander Chief Superintendent Graham Pears:

* Crime down 4%

* Vehicle theft down 10%

* House burglary down 32%

* Drugs offences down 19%

It is now the largest area command in England but the new policing structure has reinforced the county of Northumberland as one of the safest places to live, work and visit.

The low crime rate has continued over the course of the year with the support of the community and the strong relationships with partner organisations. House burglary fell by 32%, drugs offences by 19% and vehicle theft by 10% while the overall total of offences recorded decreased by 4%.

The new set-up of the area command has given greater flexibility to respond to specific problems shown by initiatives such as the area command's special Burglary Action Day.

On October 1, 2004, officers carried out a series of 15 co-ordinated raids across urban and rural areas of the county targeting burglars and handlers of stolen goods. More than a dozen people were arrested and a variety of stolen property and drugs, including cannabis and ecstasy, recovered.

A scheme tackling anti-social behaviour among youngsters has expanded right across Northumberland after initially only covering the south east of the county. The Anti Social Behaviour Unit, identified as an example of best practice by the force, has created a database of disorder hotspots and those responsible. The team looks at issues affecting the wider community as well as individual incidents.

Enforcement is one solution, but officers also divert youngsters away from anti-social behaviour. Any parent receiving a warning letter about their child can contact the unit for advice and support.

Officers work closely with local councils and other organisations which can support parents, raise awareness through education and provide diversionary activities for the young people concerned.

Eight PCSOs complement the work being done by teams of CBMs, providing people with a reassuring, visible uniform presence. They have an important role, enhancing the problem solving approach to policing, tackling local issues of crime and disorder which affect people's quality of life. Recruiting is underway to add a further 16 with the prospect of more to come.

Seven extra officers have also taken to the streets of Wansbeck to target crime and disorder in the area thanks to the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. They work alongside six environmental wardens and four street wardens, operating flexible hours to meet demands of the job.

Alcohol misuse in North Northumberland was put under the spotlight in a new campaign by the Alnwick and Berwick Crime & Reduction Partnerships. The enough initiative aims to cut alcohol-related crime by a series of initiatives including an advertising campaign, low-tolerance of offences by police, co-operation with publicans to promote safe drinking, alcohol counselling for offenders and taxi drivers promoting the enough ethos.

A 52,000 state-of-the-art CCTV scheme, featuring four mobile digital cameras, has been introduced to Alnwick, previously the only market town in the county lacking CCTV. CCTV cameras at Hexham are the first to include an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system which scans number plates and matches them against a database to identify vehicles we are seeking. Plans are underway to extend this in the county with the help of partnership funding.


Burglar snared by footprint:

Good detective work led to the jailing of a Hexham man for a burglary at a house where a woman was found dead in bed.

Police entered the house in Cockshaw after concern for the welfare of its occupant, who had been in poor health. Although she was discovered dead in her bed, and it was found the house had been burgled, no evidence was found to link her death with the intruder.

The burglar got into the house through an insecure toilet window on the first floor, leaving a footprint on the toilet seat.

Officers arrested Raymond Thompson, 21, and seized several items of footwear from his home. The Forensic Science Service said there was 'strong support' for the case that one of Thompson's brand-named shoes had made left the footprint.

The evidence was bolstered by a statistician who said it was 2,490 times more likely that the mark had been made by Thompson's shoe than one of the same type owned by someone else in the UK.

Thompson orginally denied any involvement but backtracked because of the evidence gathered by police. At court he admitted the burglary and was also convicted of two similar offences. He was jailed for three years and nine months.


Major floods in Tynedale:

Some of the worst flooding in living memory affected South West Northumberland in January when around 100 people in the Haydon Bridge and Corbridge areas were evacuated from homes and vehicles.

Northumbria Police co-ordinated the rescue operation, working with organisations including Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, North East Ambulance Service and Tynedale Council. Officers were involved in a number of dramatic rescues, which helped prevent any casualties. The force website was used to keep the public updated about the situation and one man travelling home to Corbridge overnight emailed to say the information had been a big help.


Profile Business Manager - Deborah McCue:

In the world of business, it's all about delivering results.

After a career which included overseeing operations at Royal Mail, Deborah McCue must now deliver the business plan for Northumbria's largest area command.

Business manager posts for each area command were created as part of the restructuring of the force and are seen as key roles in the strategic development of each area command.

Deborah is responsible for Northumberland Area Command, looking after over 100 staff and 19 premises spread across 2,000 square miles.

The post is similar to one she held with the Royal Mail where she was Area Planning Manager for Leeds which consisted of Leeds Mail Centre and 31 delivery offices.

She said: "I produced the area plan, making sure that it fitted into the Royal Mail's overall plan and also worked with all units to support its delivery. In terms of this job role I suppose I've gone back to what I was doing.

"I'm enjoying it because there's that element of business planning which I know about and can also bring my other experiences to the organisation as well."

The role includes developing the business plan, managing the area command budget and the overall management of police staff functions.

A typical day for Deborah can range from resolving staffing issues to preparing a report explaining to a partner organisation how the area command is spending its external funding.

Deborah said: "The challenge of coming into a new organisation is building up your knowledge of it. I've quickly become aware of what Northumbria Police is involved in and I'm in awe of what we manage to deliver in sometimes very difficult circumstances.

"Its been recognised there is a need for this role and its creation has been a positive step for the force. The good thing is I'm not trying to pick up the pieces of what should have been done in the past, instead we're pushing forward, looking to improve and develop."


Road safety:

Road casualties fell by 5% during 2004/5 compared with the previous 12 months.

Northumbria Police continues work with partners to improve road safety and target behaviour which leads to collisions.

Force restructuring created another 28 posts for Motor Patrols officers, giving area commanders the ability to target road safety and road policing issues in their own communities.

The Weekender motorbike safety scheme continued with this year's patrols enhanced by an unmarked Honda CBR 600RR sports bike and a liveried 1130cc V-Rod, one of the latest Harley Davidsons.Weekender works on two levels. Where a rider is seen making a minor mistake through a lack of skill or judgement, the emphasis is on advice and training. 'Yellow cards' have been developed covering the most common errors, suggesting improvements and encouraging the rider to seek advanced training.

For some of the more dangerous or serious errors, a 'red card' offers the rider a chance to take part in a rider improvement course to improve their skill as an alternative to a court appearance.

A review of motorbike crashes revealed that a large proportion happened on bends, with the rider at fault. We hosted a series of free 'Cornering Clinics', which focused on improving riders' cornering skills. These included the opportunity to ride with an observer from the Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Northumbria Safety Camera Partnership, which includes all local authorities, the NHS, Highways Agency and Northumbria Police, is working to drive down speed-related collisions.

All potential new camera sites undergo a tough selection process before being approved. This includes a detailed look at the type of collisions that have occurred; whether any alternative engineering measures would be more appropriate; what percentage of drivers are exceeding the limit and how many people have been killed or seriously injured on that road.

The Safe Speed for Life campaign run by the partnership aims to educate drivers and raise awareness about the dangers of excessive and inappropriate speed. It includes targeted cinema advertising, roadshows, information leaflets and a website: www.safespeedforlife.co.uk

Money received by the partnership in fines is spent on publicity, education, research and partnership running costs. There is no profit element for either the police or the local authorities, as any excess is retained by the Treasury.

There are currently 77 mobile sites, 46 fixed cameras and 18 red traffic light cameras across Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. Speeds have gone down on average by 2-3mph at camera sites, with collisions falling by approximately 11 per cent during the first year of operation.

In October 2004 four cameras were removed from the A1 at Stannington and the speed limit reverted to 70mph from 50mph after engineering measures to make the road safer were completed.

We introduced a colourful poster campaign to help cut the number of crashes during darker winter nights. The 'Be safe, be seen' message advises all road users to make sure they can be seen in darkness and take extra care to avoid becoming casualties.


Apple myths and facts:

The force hit the headlines when a motorist was fined 60 by magistrates for not being in proper control of her car while holding an apple. Numerous news outlets covered the story, claiming the case cost £10,000 to bring to court.

In fact the prosecution case cost £542. The police costs were £117, made up from 3.25 hours of a constables time, £1 for pre-used video tapes and £67 for the North East Air Support Unit helicopter to carry out a ten-minute diversion to take aerial footage while returning to base from operational duties. The CPS sought £425 in prosecution costs, based on a nationally agreed formula for calculating costs.

The driver was convicted - not because she was eating an apple but because it was accepted she was not in proper control of her vehicle.


Driver jailed for two deaths:

A driver was jailed for seven years after a crash on one of Newcastle's busiest roads in which two people died.

Robert Charles Parry, 22, who had no driving licence or insurance, was driving his friend's powerful Jaguar when he swerved in front of a Renault Clio on the Great North Road, approaching Newcastle.

Witnesses reported Parry racing with the Renault, overtaking and undertaking other cars. Investigators estimate their speed was between 70 and 80 mph. The Clio hit the central reservation, launched into the air and landed on a Vauxhall Zafira coming the other way. Both drivers died at the scene.

Parry failed to stop, and later told police he realised there had been a crash but he didnt think he was to blame as he was so far ahead in the road.

Parry was convicted of two charges of causing death by dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice and other motoring offences. As well as being jailed, he was banned from driving for eight years. The Jaguar owner, who helped move the car to make it look as if it had been stolen, admitted perverting the course of justice.

Profile Collison Investigation Unit - Inspector Gavin Clark:

The search for the truth about how a crash happened lies at the heart of the Collision Investigation Unit (CIU) which is now part of Crime Department under the umbrella of Scientific Support.

Based at Etal Lane police station in Newcastle, the unit provides specialist support to area commands when dealing with serious and fatal crashes.

Headed by Inspector Gavin Clark, the unit has ten PCs who have a vast experience of dealing with fatal and potentially fatal crashes. Collision investigators are accepted by the courts as experts in their field, being skilled in numerous areas.

Gavin said: "The unit's importance can't be overstated. Collision investigations can lead to criminal proceedings resulting in heavy prison sentences if, for instance, a driver is convicted of killing someone. Even murder investigations have sought assistance from the unit.

"Sometimes our investigation simply allows a coroner to record an accidental death on a driver or pedestrian who has died as a result of their own inappropriate actions. We owe it not only to those who have died or been seriously injured but to their relatives and next of kin to be able to tell them exactly what happened."

Gavin joined Northumbria Police in 1976 and has worked in a variety of roles. He had two spells with the Motor Patrols department - as a constable for seven years from 1982 and as an inspector from 2001 until 2003.

"I have an interest in cars and mechanics and I really enjoyed working in the department as we were all experienced officers with the same interests.

"For a time I was reluctant to return to the department but when I went back as one of four inspectors I found it was even more professional than before."

Gavin has been involved in the investigation of hundreds of serious and fatal crashes. One case which still frustrates him is the death of pensioner Nelly Hynes, in South Shields in a hit and run in December, 2002.

Gavin added: "We still don't really know what happened. So far our all our resources have failed to trace the vehicle involved. It's disappointing for her family and friends that we haven't been able to give them a proper explanation about how or why she died.

"On the other hand we've had numerous successes where drivers have been sent to prison for considerable lengths of time, adequately punished for their bad driving."

The force has invested in a photogrammetry system which uses digital photography to record data at the scene of a collision. This is then turned into highly accurate measurements, plots and graphs through specially developed computer software. The system, developed by Photoarc Surveys, means officers will be able to collate information more quickly, meaning roads will be closed for less time for investigations.


Labour Party Spring Conference

The Sage Gateshead:

Praise was heaped on the force for the policing of the Labour Spring Party Conference at The Sage Gateshead in February.

Prime Minister Tony Blair used his keynote address to publicly thank the police and security for doing 'a great job in sometimes difficult circumstances'.

Policing the conference, attended by around 3,500 delegates, was the biggest operation ever undertaken by Northumbria Police which aimed to:

* ensure a safe and secure environment for the conference

* keep disruption to local communities to a minimum

* prevent crime.

Although people travelling through Gateshead and Newcastle suffered traffic problems on the first day, the level of security was considered necessary to guarantee the safety of government ministers attending the conference.

We used the force website extensively to update the public with news of the operation and road closures.

Around 1,000 officers were on duty at any one time during the three-day event, making sure policing was effective in both Gateshead and across the rest of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

We made a commitment that no area would be short of policing as a result of the conference and the logistics of the operation meant that more officers were actually on duty overall than normal.

Crime levels across the force area were well down over the four days of the conference compared with the same period the previous week. Reported crime was down by about 40% and arrests by 10%. There were only three conference-related arrests - one for public nuisance and two for public order offences.

The volume of incidents reported by the public was also down by about 10%. Offences in Gateshead and Newcastle fell by 25%.

During a two-week stop and search programme leading up to and during the conference, 311 vehicles and people were searched resulting in 11 crime-related arrests.

The overall cost of the policing operation was 2.8 million, of which the Home Office paid 1.44 million - the full cost of the extra expenditure involved. The balance of the expenditure covered police salaries, which have to be paid anyway.

Even if the Labour Party conference hadn't been held, the force would have needed to invest in this extra equipment for the Tall Ships Race in July 2005. The skills acquired in preparation for the conference will also enhance our ability to respond to any future major incident.

The people of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland will benefit for many years from the technology and equipment which was put in place to police the conference efficiently.

Specific items which will bring tangible benefits in the future include:

* additional CCTV systems, with a link to HQ, covering new developments in Gateshead

* fully functional Airwave radio inside The Sage Gateshead

* additional vehicles equipped with crime fighting equipment

* facilities upgraded to deal with any future major emergency.


Gauging what the public wants:

Talking to the public is one of the police authority's most important duties. A major consultation exercise regularly takes place to find out exactly what people think of the way their area is policed - and which crimes they think should be tackled as a priority in the future.

The region's most recent and largest public consultation saw the delivery of questionnaires to more than half a million letterboxes throughout Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. Each leaflet contained a simple post-paid questionnaire, as well as details of other ways in which the public can express their views by phone, at public meetings and online via the police authority website, www.northumbria-police-authority.org

The 2004 consultation generated almost 24,000 responses from people throughout Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, of whom more than 75% said that patrolling the streets should be a major priority for police, followed by reducing anti-social behaviour and improving community relations (68.7%), reducing drug abuse and drug dealing (62.2%) and dealing with disturbances involving young people (55.8%).

The comments inform the Annual Policing Plan, published each April outlining priorities for the year ahead.

Northumbria Police Authority also carries out regular quality of service surveys to ensure that the public are happy with the service they receive from their police force. Questionnaires are sent to a sample of people who have had contact with the police following house burglary, violent crime, vehicle crime, racist incidents and traffic collisions. The findings are reported to authority members quarterly.

The results of surveys carried out during the year indicated high levels of satisfaction with peoples first contact with the police, with just over 90% expressing satisfaction. Around 80% were satisfied with the overall service received, with 90% happy with the way police officers and police staff had treated them.

Satisfaction is lowest with being kept informed by the police with only 61% satisfied.

The quality of service questionnaire also asked in what ways Northumbria Police could improve any aspect of its service. Suggestions included more foot patrols followed by quicker response to all parts of the crime, better follow up or being kept informed and employing more officers.

The Beat Project

A new project aimed at forging closer links between isolated rural communities and the police officers serving them began in October 2004. The Beat Project aims to link the communities of Wooler and Chevington with their local officers in a bid to improve public participation in policing and to ensure that problems are identified and dealt with. The project is one of only three such pilot schemes in England funded by the Home Office Citizen Focused Policing team.
A wide range of community organisations and groups are involved in the project, including parish councils, schools, churches, local businesses and young peoples and voluntary groups. Policing and safety concerns have been identified in each area and a 12-month action plan drawn up to address the key issues. Actions and outcomes are regularly monitored by local people - so if problems are not being dealt with, then the community will quickly know.

Each area has its own newsletter to keep everyone informed about local crime, how the action plan is being delivered and when and where meetings are held.

On the road

Northumbria Police Authority went on the road for the first time, holding its November 2004 meeting in the council chamber of Blyth Town Hall rather than the usual venue of Gateshead Civic Centre or, occasionally, Northumbria Police Headquarters. Members decided to hold a meeting in the community to offer local people the chance to see and get involved in - what it does.

Another first was a Question Time session held before the main business when members of the public were able to ask questions of the chairman of the police authority, Councillor Mick Henry, Chief Constable Crispian Strachan, senior police officers and police authority members. The meeting was well attended by local residents, councillors, voluntary organisations and school pupils who posed a large number of questions. Pupils took the lead in asking questions about the polices response to youth disorder and anti-social behaviour.

Members were pleased with the way the meeting was received and agreed to repeat the exercise on a regular basis.

Profile Police Authority Member - Tina Drury:

When Tina Drury joined the police authority as an independent member, she didnt expect to find herself returning to one of her old stamping grounds.

"I used to attend Police and Community Forums regularly when I worked for Newcastle City Council as a housing manager and the Daisy Hill and Walker area was my patch for five years.

"So it came as quite a surprise when I found that one of my first official duties as a police authority member was to chair a Police and Community Forum in Daisy Hill. Quite a few of the audience were surprised to see me there too."

This is not to be the only time that Tina has found her 23-year career in social housing of real use as a police authority member. As Assistant Director of Housing Services for the Nomad Housing Group, she is used to working with local communities on issues that matter.

"Everything to do with social housing involves people," she says. "That means that Ive often found myself working quite closely with the police - working in social housing brings you into direct contact with issues such as anti-social behaviour, unruly neighbours and the like. So I have always had an interest in law and order.

"Originally, I had thought about becoming a JP but then I saw an advert appealing for new police authority members. I knew that the police modernisation agenda contained a strong commitment to community engagement, and I felt I might have a lot of useful experience to bring to the authority."

Combining a busy and responsible full-time job with her duties as a police authority member means that Tina is always on the go.

"You are asked to make a big time commitment," she says. "But the authoritys relationship with the force is so good its so open and honest - that you find that you really want to give time to it and involve yourself in what they do. And Im lucky to have a very supportive boss."

Tina has been a keen supporter of recent moves to give police authority members more responsibility for certain issues even though she knows she probably cant take part herself.

"I've supported the development of lead member status, but Im afraid Im just too busy to take advantage of it myself, and thats a shame."

As a relative newcomer to the police authority (she joined in 2003) she has yet to go out on police patrol to experience policing on the front line. But it is something she definitely intends to do when she eventually finds the time.


Better deal for victims and witnesses:

By giving better support to victims and witnesses, Northumbria Police hope more cases can be brought successfully to justice.

Victims of domestic violence and child abuse are getting a better deal with the formation of six area command-based Public Protection Units.

Each team is headed by a detective inspector co-ordinating work which in the past was split between child protection units based on local authority areas, HQ-based management of sex offenders and only a handful of officers specialising in domestic violence.

Cases which previously would not have been considered serious enough to be passed to CID are subject to a co-ordinated approach and much closer scrutiny. The new structure reduces duplication and improves working relationships with partners in health and probation services and local authorities.

It is hoped the number of repeat offences will drop because of the strategies and risk assessments put in place to protect victims. Experience shows the same people feature in all these areas of policing. Children living in homes where there is domestic violence may suffer direct or indirect abuse and abuse victims often have connections with their abusers.

In 2004/5, 22,771 incidents of domestic violence were reported to Northumbria Police. It is believed that at least one in four women nationally experience domestic violence at some time in their lives and that more than two women die each week as a result of violence in the home.

Extra staff have been taken on to improve support for clients at the REACH centres for victims of a sexual assault. Two new case tracking officers will liaise with criminal justice agencies to make sure victims are kept up-to-date about all aspects of the prosecution process. They also track patterns and trends from information gathered from clients.

The new posts follow Home Office research into sexual assault referral centres which recommended more should to be done to encourage victims of sexual crimes to report their attacks to police and see the case through to court.

At Newcastle Crown Court victims and witnesses now have their own suite with a separate entrance from defendants and defence witnesses.

The 25,000 suite, funded by the Northumbria Criminal Justice Board, aims to reduce the stress experienced by witnesses and victims when attending court - and boost the number of people who are prepared to see a prosecution through the courts.

In the past all witnesses - except some vulnerable witnesses under special measures - had to use the main doors and wait on the concourses, possibly with the defendants, until called into court. Defence witnesses have a separate waiting area on one of the main concourses.


Northumbria people:

Our most valuable asset is our 6,000-plus complement of police officers, police staff, Special Constables and PCSOs.

The force is one of the biggest employers in the North East and we are keen to broaden the cultural and skills base of our workforce. In line with government recommendations and best practice, we are developing a diversity action plan which will help us better serve local communities and make sure that we maximise the potential of all employees.

We commissioned a video which showcases the many roles within Northumbria Police and initiated a recruitment campaign targeting hard to reach groups. In December 2004 around 1,600 people attended a two-day recruitment event at the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton Hotel.

The force teamed up with Durham Police as part of a national shake-up of probationer training. The Durham site of the police training body Centrex closed in March, leaving individual forces to train new officers. The North East system is expected to offer a blueprint for other areas to follow.

The emphasis is on practical, on-the-job training, including students going on temporary attachments to organisations such as housing departments, probation and social services, or within ethnic communities. The aim is to ensure they have a broader understanding of the needs of the areas they serve. Around 250 students - 180 from Northumbria and 70 from Durham - are expected to undertake the new programme in 2005/6.

The Gender Support Association was formed following the publication of the Gender Agenda, a national project to support women officers and police staff in reaching their full potential. It aims to ensure that women are supported in a range of roles, eliminating artificial barriers which could hinder their progression.

The number of complaints against police personnel has increased across the country since the creation of the Independent Police Complaints Commission which changed the way complaints involving all police employees may be made and investigated. Northumbria compares favourably with our most similar forces.

In the last 12 months we recorded 751 complaints against officers, a 25% increase on the previous year. Of the cases finalised, nine were substantiated.

The result of misconduct hearings involving eight officers were:

Reprimanded - 2

Fined - 6

The Integrity Unit has introduced new ways of dealing with employees who maintain inappropriate relationships with criminals or with other people likely to bring discredit on the service and has formalised monitoring of internal telephone and computer systems to deter and catch wrongdoers. We are also developing an integrity testing policy and methods of dealing with suspected drug or alcohol abuse.

Since the Freedom of Information Act came into force on January 1, we have received 72 requests for information, including queries about how many officers were suspended on full pay, details of car crime in Sunderland and disorder in Newcastle pubs. Requests, which must be made in writing, are dealt with by our Data Protection Officer and we are committed to replying within 20 working days. Much of the Northumbria Police information is already available to the public on our website at: www.northumbria.police.uk


Profile Occupational Health Manager - Louise Hall:

Occupational Health Manager Louise Hall says: "Keeping our officers and staff fit for the job is really important to Northumbria Police. This is a busy unit which is involved in promoting good health and reducing illness and injury. It's not about giving out pain-killers and sticking plasters."

Louise, who is married with two children and lives in Whitley Bay, never intended to be a nurse. The turning point in her original career came the day she received a note about her pension - and decided she didn't want to spend another 37 years pushing pen and paper in an office!

She re-trained as an RGN and worked at hospitals in Ashington and Wansbeck before taking up a post as an occupational health nurse with Nissan.

Louise now has a degree in occupational health nursing, together with a diploma in occupational health safety and environmental management.

"This role involves being an independent adviser working with the individual and the organisation."

Louise manages an occupational health and safety team which includes force medical advisers, occupational health advisers and counsellors, safety officers and an external physiotherapy service.

The force has already done a lot of work to reduce the length of time people suffer ill health and the aim for the future is to deliver best practice, following the implementation of a five-year occupational health plan.

Louise has seen real change in how the unit operates in the eight years she has worked for Northumbria Police in both nursing and management roles: "It's evolved from a screening service for pre-employment and sickness absence into a forward looking service which ensures staff are fit for their role and stay fit through health education and promotion."


HONOURS

Queens Commendation for Bravery ...

PC Darren G Purvis

PC Purvis helped pull two 12-year-olds out of a ferocious sea at Seaton Sluice. Sadly, Jade Anderson died later in hospital. PC Purvis received the Queen's Commendation for Bravery which is presented for 'an act of gallantry that entails risk to life and merits national recognition'.

Chief Constables Commendation ...

PC Stuart Moffatt
PC Christopher M Nairn
PC Michelle A Oxley
PC Paul S Sadler
PC Paul D Wardhaugh
PC Norman K Tennet
PC K Charles Bath
PC Albert E Black
PC Victoria Clark
PC Graham A Errington
PC Andrew D Mellor
PC Peter M Lewington
PC Darren Nichol
PC Simon ONeill
PC Glenn D Ross
PC Suzanne V Shaw
PC Norman K Tennet
PC Lee M Thompson
PC John G Tierney
PC Christopher K M Warriner
PC Douglas A Robinson
Sgt David Douglas
PC Paul A Colver
PC Scott Thompson
Mr Geoffrey Simmons
Mr Paul Davidson
PC A Batey
PC A J Jackson
Mr P Chappell
Mr R E Watts
PC Stuart A Garrow
PC Gordon K Stewart

High Sheriffs Cup ...

PC Barbara McGough
PC Ian G Gillie

Tony Teare Memorial Trophy ...

PC William A Burbridge
PC Shaun Scott
The Society for the Protection of Life from Fire ...

PC Steven T Hackett
PC Marie Hawkes
PC Claire L Proctor
PC Derek Graham
SC Paul Morrison

Royal Humane Society ...

Miss Beverley Beers
Mr Andrew Vince
Mrs E Tinning
Sgt Paul E Reed
PC Michael C Pattison

Special Commandants Cup ...

SO James E Thompson

Community Police Officer of the Year ...

Paul Westwood

PC Paul Westwood of Newcastle Area Command is the Northumbria Community Police Officer of the Year 2004.

PC Westwood has worked in the Arthur's Hill area for the last five years where he has made a significant contribution to the local community.

He has also been an integral part of the Newcastle New Deal for Communities Police Team since it was set up four years ago.

The award recognises his devotion and commitment in creating initiatives to tackle crime and build relationships in the local community.

PCs Maria Lamb of South Tyneside Area Command and Ian Moss of North Tyneside were also commended for their work in local communities.