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Northumbria Police: "We take the power of stop and search very seriously"

Northumbria and Cleveland Police forces were among 5 in the country - out of 43 - that 'require improvement' in their use of stop-and-search powers.

They issued a response stating 'We accept most of the findings of this report and acknowledge that at the time the inspection took place there were areas for improvement in Northumbria Police.'

Since then they have issued a further comment in response to the report's findings:

We want to reassure people that we take the policing power of stop and search very seriously in Northumbria.

We recognise it is an issue that can cause concern in our communities if it is not carried out appropriately, courteously and professionally.

However, it is a valuable tool which we use when necessary to tackle crime in our communities.

It helps us to eliminate innocent people from our enquiries as well as enabling officers to protect the public.

We recognise the need to make further improvements in our compliance with the Best use of Stop and Search scheme.

We have already taken active steps to ensure we become fully compliant with HMIC recommendations and are now seeking to make further improvements, such as the introduction of a Youth Scrutiny Panel.

It is important to us that we operate ethically, fairly and within the law and ensure that our response to stop and search is legitimate and with the consent of the public.

The HMIC report recognises the changes the force has made in recent months and we will continue to progress to seek further improvements.

– Chief Constable Steve Ashman, Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police response to HMIC report

Northumbria and Cleveland Police forces were among 5 in the country - out of 43 - that 'require improvement' in their use of stop-and-search powers.

They have issued this response to the report's findings:

"We accept most of the findings of this report and acknowledge that at the time the inspection took place there were areas for improvement in Northumbria Police.

"It is reassuring to note the positive comments of the HMIC regarding the way our officers engage so positively with our communities, however, we recognise the need to make further improvements in our compliance with the Best use of Stop and Search scheme. We have already taken active steps to ensure we become fully compliant with HMIC recommendations and are now seeking to make further improvements, such as the introduction of a Youth Scrutiny Panel.

"The report highlights the fact that the inspection took place in the spring of 2015, since when a significant amount of change has taken place.

"I am confident that we have made real progress in changing the culture of the organisation to one which welcomes challenge and encourages innovation. I look forward to this year’s inspection as an opportunity for us to show exactly where we are now."

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Sue Sim makes complaint against Northumbria Police

West Yorkshire Police is looking into allegations made by former Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim who has made a complaint against the force she once ran.

Northumbria Police has not released details about the complaint but this statement has been issued:

"A complaint has been received from Mrs Sim which is being looked at independently by West Yorkshire Police. It would be inappropriate for Northumbria Police to make any comment while the matter is being investigated."

– Northumbria Police
Sue Sim

West Yorkshire Police released this comment:

"We have been approached by Northumbria Police to assist in an enquiry in relation to issues raised about Chief Constable Steve Ashman. The appropriate authority in relation to this is the Office of the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner. Any questions should be directed to them."

– West Yorkshire Police

"The complainant required that an outside force be asked to conduct an enquiry into her complaint. IPCC guidelines have been followed."

– Police and Crime Commissioner's Office

Missing pregnant woman found 'safe and well'

Northumbria Police have said they have made contact with a pregnant woman who went missing three days ago.

Kimberly Bertram, 35, was last seen on Thursday, February 4 in Gateshead.

Officers have posted on social media to say she is 'safe and well'.

Police have thanked the public for their assistance in helping them find her.

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Northumbria Police respond to Rathband ruling

David Rathband

We are content with the Judge’s response to the actions of the police commander that night.

"This has been a sad and difficult case for all concerned. It was a tragic incident which occurred five and a half years ago and our thoughts have always been with David and his immediate family.

"The Judge has stated that Moat was a "resourceful and determined criminal and David Rathband was desperately unlucky to be the victim of his cruelty and hatred."

Moat's actions created an unprecedented situation for Northumbria Police but the Judge has recognised that operational officers have to make high pressure, complex decisions in tight time scales and in doing so they must focus not only on officer safety but on the safety and welfare of the public.

"To protect the public was the primary role of the police commander that night.

"The Judge, following detailed scrutiny of the events of that night, over a two week period, has stated that it was emphatically clear that PC Rathband had not been let down by Northumbria Police.

"We continue to wish David's family the best for the future and David will always remain in the heart of Northumbria Police."

– Chief Constable Steve Ashman

Rathband case judge: "It could have been anyone"

(l) Raoul Moat and (r) David Rathband

The judge in the civil case brought against Northumbria Police summed up his decision saying that "but if it had not been him (Rathband) it would probably have been somebody else".

The family of Pc David Rathband lost their civil case against Northumbria Police, after attempting to sue them for negligence.

Rahtband was shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat in 2010.

He later took his own life.

Moat was a resourceful and determined criminal, well capable of carrying out his threat, who remained at large for some days after PC Rathband was shot.

Regardless of the issue of any warning to be vigilant, PC Rathband’s bleak assessment was probably right.

He was desperately unlucky to be the victim of Moat’s cruelty and hatred, but if it had not been him, it would probably have been somebody else."

– Mr Justice Males

What the judge had to say:

  • Superintendent Farrell (Silver Commander at the time) had only 3½ minutes in which to do anything which would have averted the shooting. In all probability that was simply not enough time.
  • Even if a warning had been broadcast within that short period, it would have left PC Rathband with very little time, measured (at most) in seconds rather than minutes, in which to decide that he needed to move away from the position in which his vehicle was parked.
  • Unless he moved off almost instantaneously, a warning would not have averted his shooting.
  • The Judge referenced Rathband's book saying: It is worth referring to the emotion which PC Rathband described (in his book) in contemplating the likelihood that, if it had not been him who was shot, it would have been one of his fellow officers:
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