A POLICE chief has praised the efforts of businesses and organisations for making a town-wide campaign a success.
The Respect Hartlepool initiative was launched in the summer of 2010 to target three major areas of crime that had been blighting the town: domestic violence, shoplifting and drink-fuelled violence.
Two-and-a-half years on and the Hartlepool Mail-backed campaign is still going strong under the leadership of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.
In that time, crime has steadily fallen in Hartlepool and a range of operations have been launched.
Temporary Superintendent Jon Green, of Hartlepool Police, said: “The first part of this work sees us target the small hard-core of people who habitually commit crime within the town.
“We will be doing everything we can to divert them away from offending, but recognising that while they do they will be subject to intensive police activity.
“The criminal justice intervention team, which is a joint unit made up probation officers and a police officer, is dedicated to managing repeat offenders and plays a large part in the Respect work because it deals with those who consistently commit crime in the town.”
He said the second part of the work is arguably the most important as it is the way the police work in partnership with many business and organisations.
Temp Supt Green said: “For example, one of the aims of Respect was to reduce the amount of crime and anti-social behaviour at the town’s retailers, especially Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
“We did this by providing stores with the details of those who are responsible for continually committing shop thefts, which the staff then use to identify them before they even have opportunity to enter the stores.
“This is clearly a preventative measure but very effective. Thefts within the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre have fallen by over a quarter.
“The centre has been transformed in the last three years and in my view now a very appealing place to shop.”
The police have also been working closely with Harbour, a charity that supports domestic violence victims, to support repeat victims of domestic violence.
Temp Supt Green added: “I also believe the culture and atmosphere of the night-time economy in the town has improved under Respect.
“The licensees work closely with us now, to make sure we can everything we can to stop those who habitually cause trouble accessing the pubs and clubs in the town.
“I have to say I think it looks and feels different now in the town on a night than it did three years ago, but we still need to take this forward still further.”
The Mail will be focussing on the three areas of crime the operations are targeting throughout this week.
l See tomorrow’s Mail to find out how police, agencies and businesses have been tackling shoplifting.