Letters, Thursday, May 26th, 2011

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Force’s ‘distorted reality’ on crime

I AM writing to draw your readers’ attention to research I have carried out on Northumbria Police which was recently raised by MPs in Parliament.

As a former crime reporter at the Echo and now working as a freelance journalist in the region, I have spent several years researching what the force does and does not tell the media.

Northumbria will this year spend nearly £1.8million on corporate communications.

Despite this huge expenditure, they release less than one per cent of crimes to the media and the average delay in release is nine days.

Meanwhile, the corporate communications department pumps out numerous positive media releases.

I know many front-line officers who have a difficult and dangerous job and even they are sickened by what they see as an expensive distortion of reality.

So why should it matter that the police be more open ?

Firstly, the quick release of details on crimes to the media helps catch criminals.

Secondly, I believe that, with some exceptions, the public has a right to know about serious crimes happening in their communities.

I believe the holding back of crimes from the media is partly due to incompetence and mistrust but I also firmly believe there is a political angle.

Northumbria recently boasted the highest “public confidence” figures in the country.

But it must be asked if this success is due to the public being fed only good news rather than what they need to know?

And is it right they should pay £1.8million a year for the privilege?

Anyone who can help me with my research can contact me via my website – www.nigelgreenmedia.com

Nigel Green

Turning tables

YOUR correspondent Mr Seely doesn’t want the Echo to print youth football league tables in case the boys get upset at how badly they are doing.

I’ve got another suggestion. If Sunderland ever suffer another 19-point or 15-point season like we had in recent years, please, oh please, don’t print the Premier League table either.

In 1992 I was having a drink in the Bigg Market when I got chatting to two Swedish lads who were studying at Newcastle University. They had tickets for the match at St James’s Park the next day and were very excited about it.

At the time Kevin Keegan’s team were top of the Second Division while Sunderland AFC were struggling way down the league. With great difficulty I tried to explain to them that Sunderland were a great team while the Mags were rubbish.

“Oh,” they said, “So in England you print the leagues with the best teams near the bottom and the bad teams on top.”

Ouch! So that’s what passes for a sense of humour in Sweden.

J. Ridler, Hylton Road, Sunderland

Double standards

MR Cameron – “he who has forked tongue” as the American Indians once said about the U.S. Government – has publicised this new covenant as regards our lads and lasses in the armed forces. He made it look really believable then he starts pushing for more cuts and, unbelievably, he wants to advise employers not to hold the jobs of serving Territorial Army personnel.

Just think, someone gives up spare time to train as a combat specialist, whether it be medical or transport, computer and radio, or even a caterer, or the actual front-line soldier willing to put himself in danger. How can you put faith in someone with double standards who goes back on promises on a whim and has tunnel vision with no regard to anyone on the periphery? He will have his way, no matter what.

The NHS is one example, telling all that would listen that he would have a rethink about plundering the NHS on behalf of the sharks waiting to pounce and tear their mouthfuls off the body of one of our greatest services.

He never was going to back down. His words were a smokescreen and I reckon it gave him more time to start implementing his plans. I think people will realise things have started to show this already.

Once again I agree something had to be done to alleviate the financial problems of the country, but this man is like someone possessed and every day we read or hear of cuts here and cuts there.

He must lie awake every night thinking how he can squeeze more out of us and not step on the toes of our bankers and conglomerates who were the main cause of our trouble. All these people were greedy and didn’t give a damn how they made money or who suffered in the process.

C. S. Wasey, Wayman Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

Thanks for support

I WOULD like to take this opportunity to thank the residents of Fulwell, Seaburn and South Bents who made the time and effort to vote for me at the recent local council elections.

Although I didn’t win the seat, it was very overwhelming and humbling to know that people took the time to listen what I had to say on the doorsteps. Your views and support were very much appreciated by myself and the Fulwell Ward Labour Party, who will continue to engage with local residents throughout the year.

I would also like to congratulate Coun John Wiper on his victory, and hope that he serves the ward to the best of his abilities.

Paul Middleton, Labour Party candidate, Fulwell Ward

Royal links

WITH reference to Sarah Stoner’s article “So, is Kate really a Mackem?” (Echo, May 19), the future Queen’s tenuous Wearside links are explained, and indeed, received mass media coverage recently. However, the national press failed to draw the parallel with the ancestral links of Kate’s husband William, to Wearside.

One of Will’s ancestors, Sir Robert Bowes (died 1421), inherited Pallion and Humbledon and five generations later his descendant George Bowes lived at Biddick.

George’s brother, Sir William Bowes, (died 1611) was the Ambassador to Scotland who married Mary, daughter of Lord Scropes.

It was this Lord Scropes’ grandson, Emmanuel, who became 1st Earl of Sunderland, a title now held by Prince William’s relative, George Spencer-Churchill.

The Lyon family were the Earls of Strathmore whose Durham links began when the eighth Earl, Thomas, married Jane, daughter and co-heiress of James Nicholson of West Rainton. Their son Thomas inherited the Nicholson estates at Hetton.

It was Thomas’s brother, John Lyon, who married Mary Eleanor Bowes and by an Act of Parliament assumed her surname.

His sister, Susan, married Colonel John Lambton, father of the Earl of Durham whose memorial stands on Penshaw Hill.

Michael Bute, Sunderland Antiquarian Society

Community hero

SOME people never get recognised for the tireless work they do and are an example to all members of the community. I am referring to the postmaster at Ormonde Street Post Office.

I think it’s about time the heroics of this man were recognised by her Majesty the Queen and that he should be made an MBE for his services to the local area in very difficult and trying circumstances.

Almost daily he is faced with a large queue of pensioners and the unemployed, many whom have ignored the opening hours and stood chattering outside up to an hour before the great man opens for business.

Is there a frown or a sigh? No, this postmaster has a smile and an encouraging word for everyone in the queue.

I really do feel that he should be rewarded for his efforts, and a few things can be done to ease the pressure on postmasters all over Wearside.

For instance we have all been there on a Saturday morning, taken our eBay items to the post office and stood for a hour behind some OAP buying his or her gas stamp. “£2 on there, please” is a popular phrase.

I really feel that that the whole system is wrong and that with all this modern technology improvements could be made.

One easy solution would be to provide a quick and easy aisle similar to B&Q and Asda. This would relieve the pressure on postmasters and their staff and even bring an economic boom to weekend trade at those post offices similar to Ormonde Street that sell other items like stationery, toys and books.

Mick “The Pen” Brown

Absent again

YOU may remember I wrote in recently about local community meetings which are held in the Houghton area and are arranged, promoted, paid for and hosted by our local independent councillors.

At the meetings, residents can raise any concerns they have about their area and the councillors take these concerns away and attempt to put them right.

In my letter I wrote about how these meetings have been going on regularly for quite some time and I’d never seen a Labour councillor attend any of them (even though there are three Labour councillors in the Copt Hill and Houghton wards) This was until the meeting before the local elections, when they turned.

Was this the new, caring face of our Labour councillors? Had they suddenly decided to take an interest in the area and people they represent? What a surprise when, at the first meeting after the elections, not a single one showed up. No doubt we’ll see them all again next year though – just before the next local elections.

Paul Marriner, Cathedral View, Newbottle