Anger at ‘bureaucratic nonsense’

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A Hepscott resident has criticised Northumbria Police over the way it has dealt with his letters to the force’s top cop.

Paul Kidd first wrote to Chief Constable Sue Sim on November 1 last year to raise concerns about the length of time it was taking to get the Community Speedwatch process up and running in his area after he volunteered for the initiative.

He received a letter from Superintendent Simmons on November 5 saying that a copy of his correspondence had been forward to Joscelin Lawson, head of human resources (November 15).

Ms Lawson sent a response on November 15, but Mr Kidd wrote back to Mrs Sim on December 2 saying he would like a direct response as he had written directly to her.

In this letter, the retired magistrate said: “Have you, the Chief Constable, had the opportunity to read the brief correspondence and hence become aware of what is going on (or rather not going on)? And if not, why not?

“In due course, if it is not too much trouble to ask, would you please let me know what, as Chief Constable, you propose to do about the shambolic state of affairs currently existing in Northumbria Police as I have had the misfortune to put up with over the last six months.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, Vera Baird, was sent a copy of the November 1 letter and there has been correspondence between her and Mr Kidd, who wrote to her on December 19 saying that the responses he had received from the force to that point were ‘unacceptable’.

Miss Baird sent two letters back to him – the latest on February 11 said: “Further to your recent letter, I have asked the Chief Constable for an overview of the case to date so that I am able to reply to you further.”

But when Mr Kidd spoke to the Herald, he had received no further correspondence from Northumbria Police.

He said: “Over the last eight months, I have become quite appalled that I can’t get any confirmation from Northumbria Police that my original letter has been seen by the Chief Constable.

“Two further letters to her office were never acknowledged never mind replied to, and I handed each letter in at Morpeth Police Station and got a receipt.

“At the turn of the year, I sent a copy of my subsequent letters to the force and the responses I received to the Police and Crime Commissioner in the hope that she could obtain an answer where I had failed.

“I have twice been assured that she has written to the Chief Constable, but I have heard nothing from her since February, which raises the question of why do we have a Police Commissioner.

“All this also makes me question how Northumbria Police deals with more serious matters.”

Volunteers for Community Speedwatch monitor traffic in a designated spot, using measuring equipment to record the speed of passing vehicles.

Details are noted of any vehicles found to be speeding.

Working with their local Neighbourhood Policing Team, a letter is then sent to motorists about their speeding.

If the same driver is identified as speeding in the area a number of times, then officers will make contact with the driver and action may be taken.

Mr Kidd said in his November 1 letter: “I filled in an application form (for Community Speedwatch) last June.

“Since then, due to utter bureaucratic nonsense in your ‘vetting’ department, I have had to fill in the same form three or four times, one as recently as last week.

“In July, we were told the training would be during August.

“No explanation was given, but a half day training finally took place at the end of September.”

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a complaint from Mr Kidd relating to a delay in his receiving training as a volunteer for the Community Speedwatch scheme and having to complete an administrative form several times.

“As with any new scheme there are often ‘teething problems’ and we would sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of this.

“We would like to emphasise that we are extremely grateful to all our volunteers for the sterling work they do to support our communities and their on-going assistance to Northumbria Police.

“We have made arrangements to meet with Mr Kidd to discuss his concerns as we are particularly keen to hear his feedback so we can make further improvements to the volunteer scheme.”