Readers hit out at Whitburn armed police plan

A controversial clampdown on suspected poachers in South Tyneside by armed police is a hare-brained idea, according to Gazette readers.

Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 8:00 am
Northumbria Police have plans to deplay armed officers on land around Whitburn

Many have swamped our Facebook social media page to brand the plan ‘overkill’ – and warned the scheme could end in tragedy.

The Gazette reported on Monday that police are planning call in armed support as an option in response to incidents around farms.

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Northumbria Police says there has been a rise in land and crops damaged in a stretch of countryside between Whitburn and South Shields.

They suspect people out lamping – the night-time shooting of animals with the aid of strong spotlights – and hunting are to blame.

Officers have carried out patrols to catch culprits and gather evidence.

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Our firearms officers carry out core policing patrols throughout the force every day. They are a flexible resource available for use in a multitude of situations, and not just firearms related incidents.

“As such we often deploy them to support our neighbourhood and 24/7 teams. On this occasion they have been briefed to assist within their regular patrols, but have not been deployed within their firearms role.

Gazette readers say deploying armed units would be a step too far.

Reader Peter Watt said he fears somene could mistakenly be shot.

In a post on our Facebook site, he said: “It’ll be kids running around with 22 air rifles.”

Darren Smith said: “Armed police protecting farms and fields of people lamping – waste of taxpayers’ money. Get on the streets and protect us from the real problems – terrorists.”

Claire Little added: “Total waste of taxpayers’ money. Ridiculous.”

David Orr said: “Armed response officers are around us 24-hours a day. Can’t actually believe people think they are going to be wandering around Whitburn at night, trying to catch a few blokes shooting rabbits.”

But the plan, supported by Marsden and Whitburn councillor Tracey Dixon, won backing from Pete Davies.

He said: “I think if I was a police officer tasked with investigating crimes that involved people hunting with guns, I’d like the reassurance of armed officers too.”

Graham Henderson added: “So if you lived in an isolated farm and there’s people running around with guns, wouldn’t you phone the police? Think about it.”