As a taxpayer I want police to target real offenders

I suppose everyone in the region is wondering why Northumbria Police spent an estimated £10,000 on the services of a police helicopter, police spotter plane and countless officers' time on prosecuting a teacher for eating an apple in her car.

I suppose everyone in the region is wondering why Northumbria Police spent an estimated £10,000 on the services of a police helicopter, police spotter plane and countless officers' time on prosecuting a teacher for eating an apple in her car.

People who have had their houses burgled, their cars broken into, their family members raped and attacked and their lives made a misery by criminals are not going to be impressed by prosecuting an apple-eating teacher.

As a taxpayer I want the police to target real offenders.


With only one hand on wheel you do not have full control

YOU report that "Sarah McCaffery was convicted of munching an apple at the wheel".

You should be accurate. The conviction was for not being in full control of her car by reason of having only one hand on the steering wheel while executing a turn. Try it: you do not have full control.

You did not report that she had denied executing a turn in this manner.

It seems therefore that she was silly to dispute the on-the-spot ticket and the police were right to prosecute.

Many traffic accidents occur at junctions.

In the edition reporting this case you also report at least six persons requiring hospital treatment after traffic accidents.

In these circumstances the criticisms of the police for picking up and pursuing this incident of unsafe driving practice are totally misplaced.

This case cost more than it should because the defendant chose to take it to court, thus obliging the police to gather and present evidence.

For Martin Callanan, the MEP, to criticise the cost, then call for an inquiry, thus adding to the cost, is curious in the face of his party's intention of reducing the cost of government.

Own goal?


People do not realise potential for devastation behind wheel

WOULD Sarah McCaffery feel the same way if, God forbid, one of her pupils was the victim of an accident due to somebody driving in this manner?

Would her solicitor Mr Forrester believe it would then be "silly" to prosecute that person?

Does Tory Euro-MP Martin Callanan not realise that police officers would much rather be catching car thieves and burglars, instead of removing bodies from roads and informing relatives that their kin are not coming home. These are part of the duties of police officers who do not find it "silly" at all.

Fatalities on the roads are usually driver error.

People do not realise the potential for devastation behind the wheel of a car. It is as deadly as a loaded gun.

Northumbria Police are damned if they do or damned if they don't act.

I'm thankful they did. Perhaps a trip to the morgue or to the relatives of road traffic victims would be the best course of action for Ms McCaffery, Mr Forrester and Mr Callanan.

People driving, using one hand around a bend, do not deserve sympathy or leniency.


South Shields.

`Unbelievable' action by Northumbria Police

NORTHUMBRIA Police seem desperate to convict the motorist. They have sunk to new depths by using a helicopter to catch someone eating an apple at the wheel. Unbelievable.


Our nanny state government misses point on drinking

ONCE again our nanny state government has totally missed the point.

I refer to the proposed measures to tackle binge drinking, drunken yobs, attacks and abuse to police, ambulance and A&E staff.

The pubs and brewers are to be fined or closed down and will have to pay for extra police near their premises.

The people to tackle should be the drunks and yobs themselves.

There is nothing wrong with having a good drink, the majority of us do this without causing any problems.

Sort the minority out who cannot handle their drink, stop absolving violent drunks from their own personal responsibility. An automatic £250 fine and 48 hours custody would be a start.

The way Blair and Co are trying to sort things out is unworkable.

What's next Tony? Are we to blame motor manufacturers because a drunk drove one of their cars?

Stop giving guilty people an escape route or soft option.


County Durham.

Let's not kid ourselves local councils are entirely innocent

I AM not an enthusiast for 24-hour drinking. But when local councils denounce the Government's plans and complain about the cost of the new system, I think many are guilty of hypocrisy.

Back in the early 90s, some authorities were only too eager to see the opening of new clubs and pubs in town centres.

It was seen as a way of bringing in much-needed revenue, creating jobs, regenerating rundown areas and restoring derelict buildings to use.

All the talk then was of "24-hour cities", which would be buzzing with life even into the small hours.

Glossy publicity brochures depicted chic young people in stylish bars. Newcastle eagerly seized on the "party city" title it was given and billed itself as a "party city" at every opportunity.

All too often, it seemed a blind eye was turned to the yobbishness and mayhem that ensued.

The massive expansion in the numbers of pubs and clubs led to ferocious competition and numerous happy hour and cheap drinks promotions from landlords faced with tough sales targets.

I'm glad that government, local and national, have finally woken up to the problem.

Maybe introducing 24-hour drinking is a bad idea.

But let's not kid ourselves that the present situation is anything like acceptable, or that local authorities are completely innocent parties in this whole fiasco.


Why will Tony Blair not listen to the people on drink hours?

PRESIDENT Tony claims that 24-hour drinking will be good for people such as cinema and theatre goers, coming out after the show and going for a drink.

Can one imagine having sat for two hours watching a show then going into a pub (possibly in evening dress) where the yobs have been sloshing it down for the past six hours!

Get a life Tony.

The on-the-spot-fines for binge drinking yobs will cost more to collect than the revenue it brings in. Once again why will President Tony not listen to the people? Eighty per cent of the population do not want 24-hour drinking, even some of the larger pub chains do not want it.

One is aware that when driving in cities late at night you have to watch out for drunks falling in front of the car!

If Tony gets his way we will have to watch out for them when driving to work in the morning.


Amble, Northumberland,

National Service for young should never have been axed

REGARDING the recent fracas emanating from a private party and the outcry over Prince Harry's choice of costume - is it not time for every 16 to 18-year-old to do two years National Service in one or other of the armed forces?

Rather than hang around street corners or break valuable stained glass windows as in our beautiful old church in Chester-le-Street. National Service is long overdue and should never have been abolished.



David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer