Cleveland Police proposal to reduce number of ranks halted

Moves to scrap two ranks at Cleveland Police have been halted for now.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 3:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 5:18 pm
Plans to phase out the positions have been stopped for now under temporary Chief Constable Lee Freeman.

Former Chief Constable Mike Veale had intended to remove Chief Inspectors and Chief Superintendents to cut bureaucracy at the “top heavy” force.

But plans to phase out the positions have been stopped for now under temporary Chief Constable Lee Freeman.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said an interim structure was in place at the moment – adding it had both Chief Inspectors and Chief Superintendents in place to meet existing demands.

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Under Mike Veale’s proposed reshuffle, Cleveland Police would have gone from nine ranks to seven.

But the force spokeswoman said the two roles were always going to be part of the structure of the force anyway until staff either retired or departed.

Their posts just wouldn’t have been back-filled.

Chief Con Freeman is taking temporary charge of the force until April.

He said “delayering in itself was not an outcome” at the latest Cleveland Crime Panel.

He told the February panel how staff were being consulted about whether the two ranks should go or not – adding there was “strong support – particularly for the rank of Superintendent”.

Chief Con Freeman added: “What I’m absolutely committed to is to put back that place-based locality leadership where you have a senior team looking after an area – you know them, they know you.

“Whether that’s a Superintendent of a Chief Superintendent – or you happen to be in Middlesbrough or Stockton – you know who is responsible day in, day out.”

Cleveland Police has lost more than 500 officers and PCSOs since 2010.

The interim chief said any changes to ranks would need to “fit in the financial envelope” of the budget and not lead to a reduction in police officers.

Chief Con Freeman added: “The staff have got some very clear views and concerns about what they would or would not want to see coming back.

“What I would say is delayering hierarchies is not an outcome in itself – you have to understand what that’s going to provide you.”

Mr Veale argued the force had got “top heavy” last year – saying he did not want “a load of chief inspectors cluttering up the hierarchy” and outlined plans to “streamline” the force.

But he resigned in January in the wake of serious allegations about his conduct.

A probe by Independent Office for Police Conduct is ongoing.

Alex Metcalfe , Local Democracy Reporting Service