Police Chief defends Tetra

I am submitting this letter to local papers in Hampshire, following the comments made by Hampshire Police Chief Kernaghan on local TV BBC News, recently. If any bits or all of it would be useful to others with nice kind Police Chiefs like ours - feel free to use it. You see? Still doing what I can in between brain fag and the drying up of creative juices. Got a terrible feeling I've given up the weed only to get addicted to Masts! There's a horror story in there somewhere.


PS Letters need to be brief for letter pages - I've got a nice editor who tries not to cut so I get indulged a bit - but thought I'd mention it, as it's very frustrating when they take out the most important bits, or worse juggle the contents so they can lose their proper meaning. Be warned!

Letter starts: Can one believe Chief Constable Kernaghan’s view that there should be no concerns about the safety of the police communication systemTetra? There is a huge political agenda behind the decision to use it, and Police Chiefs are expected to follow the official line as handed down by government ministers. However, he will rarely be using the Tetra system himself, nor will Home Office minister Hazel Blears or anyone else in Government. So his public statement may not be as convincing as he would wish.

Thousands of Tetra masts are being rolled out (often illegally) despite the health risks. British Police have therefore become guinea pigs for the rest of the world. The Trower Report on Tetra, commissioned by the Police Federation, produced overwhelming evidence of the dangers. It has been ignored. Now hundreds of police are suffering ill health. Two young and healthy officers have tragically died and others are already suffering potentially life threatening illnesses since it was introduced. Residents forced to live in the shadow of Tetra masts, are also showing signs of illness. All this was predicted - and then suppressed. Public health, and money, are at risk for a system that is a £2.9 billion technical disaster, and hundreds of millions more of OUR money will be thrown into the pit rather than scrap it. MP’s are asking questions, and the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee are launching inquiries into the system. There are many complaints from top officers and key technicians on the Tetra project. Several police forces are developing their own mobile services rather than use it. They want ‘bearer independence’, because, in addition to health concerns, Tetra is obsolete even before the roll-out has been fully implemented. Shocking? Yes. The alternatives are better and safer but higher powers with much to lose, are preventing their use.

I’m sure Chief Kernaghan does not intend to put his officers’ lives at risk – or the public’s – so I can only assume that he has not read the Trower Report, though if he hasn’t he ought to have done. The safety of his men and Hampshire residents rests in his hands. Should he be submitting to the self- interested demands of HO minister Hazel Blears, who told officers that they must use the system or take the consequences? Not surprisingly this was interpreted by many officers as little short of blackmail. Their words, not mine. It’s gratifying that a number of brave police chiefs across the country are ignoring the intimidation and putting the welfare of their officers and citizens first. A good career move? Who can say, but it is a very moral decision. I cannot apologise for criticising those who make the rules and allow others to take the brunt of their decisions. Policemen, like soldiers, risk their lives for us. It is unacceptable that those in high office should add to that risk for political expediency.

However, Chief Kernaghan is not alone in ignoring the Trower Report. The Police trust the advice given by government scientists like Dr David Coggan, of the NRPB. But how trustworthy is that advice? Roger Coghill, a highly qualified scientist whose findings support Trower’s, was forced to reject Dr Coggan as an examiner in his PhD thesis on this subject, when he discovered to his amazement, an internal memo written in advance of the scheduled oral examination, setting out reasons why he had been failed. He is not the only scientist to have his career and reputation blighted for coming out with the truth about this technology. This is happening worldwide.

Finally, Airwave the company running Tetra, frequently erects masts illegally, and refuses to dismantle them, defying local authorities. Setting aside the dangers and inefficiencies of Tetra, does the Chief Constable not feel embarrassed about supporting and defending a company that persistently acts unlawfully?

Jennifer Godschall Johnson.

From: Mobile Phone Mast Campaigners Networking


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Oktober 2004

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