Drop-in sessions launched for Roker residents to raise concerns as rape inquiries continue

Northumbria Police and Sunderland Council community are running pop-up drop sessions at Newcastle Road Tesco in Roker. From left, chatting to a shopper, are PCSO Emily Milne, Sunderland Council's Elaine Bewick and Pc Peter Baker.
Northumbria Police and Sunderland Council community are running pop-up drop sessions at Newcastle Road Tesco in Roker. From left, chatting to a shopper, are PCSO Emily Milne, Sunderland Council's Elaine Bewick and Pc Peter Baker.

A series of meetings have been set up to give Sunderland residents a chance to voice their concerns after hundreds of people turned out to a community police session.

Northumbria Police and Sunderland City Council have organised of pop-up meetings to give residents extra opportunities to speak to officers about issues in their community.

Northumbria Police is maintaining a visible presence in Roker.

Northumbria Police is maintaining a visible presence in Roker.

Concerns have been raised by people in the aftermath of rape allegations, which have led to two men being charged following an incident on Wednesday, May 23.

Another report of a rape was made on Monday, June 4, with a man released under investigation.

Police and council officers will be present at the Tesco Extra supermarket, on Newcastle Road, Roker, from 3 to 5pm today, tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday to talk to members of the public about a wide range of subjects.

The initiative follows a popular Police and Communities Together (PACT) meeting held in Roker on Monday.

Chief Inspector Sam Rennison.

Chief Inspector Sam Rennison.

More than 250 people were in attendance, and a decision was subsequently made to move the meeting to a larger venue.

Now, after the popularity of Monday’s regular PACT meeting, which usually takes place every five weeks, police in partnership with the council have organised drop-in sessions so members of the public to meet officers at their own leisure at a regular time and place over the coming days.

The scheme will be piloted in Roker and could be set up in other areas across Southern Area Command, should issues arise.

Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, of Northumbria Police, said: “What Monday’s meeting showed us is that members of the community have lots of questions and views about their local area and want to speak to us about a range of different things.

“Rather than wait every five weeks to engage with us, we hope residents can attend these drop-in sessions and chat with officers and our partners at the local authority about the issues that are important to them, and more importantly, ways we can resolve them.

“I would encourage anybody with any concerns to speak to an officer.

"They will be happy to help and offer guidance and crime prevention advice.”

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Councillor Michael Mordey, said: “I would like to reassure residents of Roker that the city council fully understands their concerns and is firmly on their side.

"We will do everything we can to address any concerns that they may have about antisocial and criminal behaviour in their community.

“That includes working with our national and local community safety partners to identify local solutions to specific problems, and using all the enforcement and legal powers we have available to take all appropriate actions.

“As a council we have written direct to the Home Secretary to demand that he immediately halts the Government dispersal policy, that has created the issues in this particular local community.

“The council is also looking to address the wider issue of HMOs in the area through the Local Plan process.

"That will see a supplementary planning document underpin the council’s current policy in relation to HMOs, so that we as a council can prevent any further HMO in the Roker Avenue area.

“Local ward councillors and the new leadership of the council are fully supportive of the local community, and we will do everything in our power to persuade central government to change their policies which are contributing to the problem.”