Police commissioner clashes with Berwick councillor

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner and a Berwick councillor clashed at a council meeting.

By Ian Smith
Wednesday, 10 April, 2019, 11:14
Georgina Hill

Dame Vera Baird was responding to concerns raised by Coun Georgina Hill about the politicisation of policing by police and crime commissioners.

At a meeting of Berwick Town Council, Coun Hill said: “Everyone is entitled to be part of a political party but do you think it’s wise for you to be so active in the Labour Party?”

As an example, she alleged that people in Sunderland who had criticised Labour politicans had their phones and computers seized.

Coun Hill, member for Berwick East on Northumberland County Council, said: “There is a lack of public confidence in Northumbria Police and there is concern here and elsewhere about that politicisation because of your activity within the Labour Party.”

Ms Baird responded: “There is not a shred of truth, evidence or reality in what has been suggested. No politicisation has occurred as a consequence of police and crime commissioners.”

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“The people who have stood for these roles are people of integrity in my experience,” she added.

“There is no link between their politics and the operation work of police.

“There is no lack of confidence in Northumbria Police. On the contrary, they are the most highly-rated force in the land for public confidence.”

Pressed by Coun Hill to respond to the Sunderland allegation, Dame Vera said: “The only correspondence I’ve had about this whole issue is about you and when you’re going to stop criticising police officers.”