Police blame health crisis on radio mast
By Nic Fleming
Six people including a chief inspector, other
officers and civilian workers at a police station have blamed
debilitating health complaints on a mast for a controversial new
communications system yards from their desks.
Chief Insp Steve Strong and his staff
reportedly believe their bouts of dizziness and severe headaches
began when a
transmitter for the Tetra radio network was put up.
|The mast at the North
Around 25 people living near the mast at the
station in North Walsham, Norfolk, have complained of similar
symptoms. Other reported health complaints include repeated
nosebleeds, especially among children, disturbed sleep and skin
The officers, who have been referred to the
force's doctor, are said to have been warned not to discuss
their worries publicly. A source said: "They don't know which
way to turn. They have been forbidden from speaking out.
"They are caught between going to work in a
place that is making them ill and the huge financial and
political pressures that demand Tetra must be a success at all
Last month the family of Pc Neil Dring, a
Leicestershire police motorcyclist who died of cancer of the
oesophagus, said he had complained of headaches when he began
using his Tetra handset and that he was convinced it was to
blame for his condition.
The Government's £2.9 billion Tetra system is
being rolled out to all 53 police forces in England, Scotland
and Wales by next spring.
It is already being used by 65,000 officers in
40 forces. The digital handsets boast improvements including
better security and coverage, the ability to receive pictures
and data, and emergency buttons.
Hundreds of officers have said they believe
their health is suffering and campaign groups are fighting
against siting the system's 3,500 transmitters near their homes,
schools and workplaces.
Residents, police and politicians in North
Walsham are angry with O2 Airwaves because its contractors put
up a transmitter just days after planning permission for a new,
taller mast was refused. Negotiations about finding an
alternative site are continuing.
Chris Warren, of the Norfolk Police Federation,
said: "The federation would not want to see any piece of
equipment brought in that is demonstrably injurious to our
members. But there is no scientific evidence that Tetra is
injurious to officers' health."
O2 Airwaves said: "All the medical evidence
would suggest the symptoms reported are not connected with the
use of radio technology."