POLICE chiefs have moved to reassure residents that neighbourhood policing won’t be affected by a force restructure to cut more than 300 posts.
Cleveland Police is to axe 324 officer positions as chiefs restructure how the force operates with the aim of making £26m in real-term cuts by the 2014-15 financial year.
It follows the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in April 2010 and the restructure will see a reorganisation of leadership that will axe two superintendent or chief superintendent posts while chief inspectors will be cut from 20 to 17 and inspectors will fall to 75 from 86.
Senior officers in town moved to reassure residents that the successful neighbourhood police model won’t be adversely affected by the changes.
Inspector Paul Haytack addressed residents at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s north and coastal neighbourhood forum, held at the Civic Centre recently.
Insp Haytack said: “Neighbourhood teams will be located in Hartlepool and they will be there exactly as they are now.
“We are trying to take down the administration roles and get the resources on the front line.”
Labour councillor Rob Cook said Barry Coppinger, the new Police and Crime Commissioner, had pledged to “safeguard” neighbourhood policing as a priority and Coun Cook asked Insp Haytack how positive could he be that that would be the case.
Insp Haytack said as far as he could see structures still needed to be decided but added: “I’m as positive as I can be that there won’t be any changes to neighbourhood policing teams.”
He said if anything they would be supported by more staff.
Insp Haytack added that Jacqui Cheer, temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, and Mr Coppinger were very much behind the model.
At the meeting residents were told that overall crime in town was down by 12.9 per cent, meaning 839 fewer victims of crime between January and December last year while levels of anti-social behaviour had been slashed by 23 per cent.
House burglary was down by 22.1 per cent, or 89 fewer victims, vehicle crime was down 22 per cent, or 112 fewer victims and other theft has been slashed by 28.3 per cent, or 413 fewer victims.
Violent crime had seen an increase of 3.2 per cent, or 41 incidents, some of which was down to a small increase of violent crime within the night time economy.
Insp Haytack said the force was “proud” of the overall record and said there is a heavy reliance on neighbourhood teams to provide a visible presence within wards to “deter and reassure”.