NORTHUMBRIA Police have hit back at claims that drastic cuts to riot officers will result in criminal behaviour like that seen in London and other major cities in the country last week.
Its officers who were deployed to the capital to help with the chaos were told before they went that TSG (tactical support group) teams would be disbanded within a matter of weeks.
TSG officers – who include specialist riot police – would instead end up back on the beat or as traffic officers.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Dave Pryer denied the reorganisation would have a negative impact on policing.
He said: “There will be no loss in the capacity of these specialist officers who are trained to a national standard and equipped with full personal protective equipment for public order situations.
“Within our new structure they will work in visible policing teams and their specialist skills will be brought into play when required.
“We have repeatedly stated we are fully committed to the delivery of visible policing services to our communities.”
However, the partner of a riot officer from south east Northumberland who was deployed to the capital last week has reacted with disbelief at the plans.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I am bewildered by the decisions that are being made.
“In a number of different departments with very skilled officers, they are being scaled right down.
“For me the only thing that will come out of this situation is the rate of crime going through the roof.
“I can’t believe they are making these kinds of decisions.”
Speaking before her partner’s return from London, where he was sent at short notice, she said: “I’m just very worried for him, I know he has been in the full riot uniform.
“Before he left he said they had been throwing pick axes at the police and some of them were armed.
“He is a loving caring man under that uniform and like anyone just wants to do a job and then come home.”
Over the past week comments about how the police handled the riots have also annoyed the mother of one.
“The police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” she said.
“A lot of them are prepared to stand back in line.
“Some of them are worried about pictures of them using force will come out in the media, but are they being heavy handed or simply protecting the people out there?
“The public need to make their minds up, do they want a police force or a police service?
She added: “My partner and the team that he works in have been told by their superiors that all the teams in this area command are being disbanded in the next coming weeks because there is no need to have officers with this type or level of training.
“These are the very same teams of officers who handled the Raoul Moat incident in July of last year.
“Maybe those who make these decisions would like to consider what the consequences of their decisions may lead too.”