A top cop has warned that neighbourhood policing in Hartlepool and across Cleveland could be affected by pressures faced by the force.
Gordon Lang, Chief Superintendent of Neighbourhoods and Partnerships at Cleveland Police, said the force is carrying out a review of how it meets demand for community policing against a backdrop of cuts and new demand on resources investigating a rise in child sex exploitation reports.
We have been badly affected in terms of loss of officers
Cleveland Police has lost between 350 to 400 officers over the last two years and had £25m less funding over the last four years.
Chf Supt Lang told a meeting of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership: “Cleveland Police is out of balance in terms of resource. We have been badly affected in terms of loss of officers.
“We have lifted the stone on child sexual exploitation and we have a problem in this area and it’s not an insignificant problem.”
He said the force was carrying gaps and vacancies as a consequence.
Chf Supt Lang added: “There is a review of how we manage demand and how neighbourhood policing will look in the future.”
Robert Smith, chairman of the Fens Residents Association, said: “These days a PC or PCSO patrolling the Fens area is a rare sight indeed, especially towards the western side of the estate.
“The situation was much better when the Jutland Road police station was in operation, providing officers with a neighbourhood base.”
But Mr Smith said there was still great respect for neighbourhood officers.
Chf Supt Lang pledged the force’s ongoing commitment to fighting anti social behaviour and stressed the importance of partner agencies working together.
He said Operation Impact, which piloted in Hartlepool, and sees officers targeting anti social hot spots was seeing positive results.