Councillors react to 23% rise in crime in Hartlepool

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Councillors expressed their disappointment after hearing how crime in Hartlepool increased by 23%.

Latest crime figures for last October to December showed burglary and vehicle crime had doubled compared to the same period in 2016.

The overall rise equated to an extra 510 crimes reported to police.

The figures were discussed by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the committee, said: “We are disappointed with the increases.

“I don’t think we can lay the finger of blame in any one direction.”

He said it was reassuring that hate crimes had fallen in Hartlepool when other areas were seeing increases.

There were 31 incidents in October to December 2016 compared to 25 for the last three months of 2017.

But Coun Martin-Wells said it was worrying there had been an increase in robberies against individuals from 13 to 20.

Rachel Parker, the council’s community safety team leader, said many were committed between known associates.

She added around half of the burglaries reported were for sheds, garages or outbuildings rather than homes being left insecure, suggesting crime prevention messages were getting through to people.

And she said approximately two thirds of vehicle crimes were thefts from vehicles.

Victoria ward councillor Lesley Hamilton, who works in the court system in County Durham, said many police officers spent too much time waiting to give evidence.

“There’s a lot of police sitting around in court when they could be doing policing on the street,” she said.

Coun Hamilton added: “That for me is a waste of time, effort and money to the taxpayer and everybody affected by that.

“Police don’t want to be in court rooms all day. They want to be doing their job.”

Coun Martin-Wells said that was something they would have to take up with the judiciary.

De Bruce ward councillor Brenda Harrison said more should be done around educating young people.

She said: “I feel over the years whatever has been put into schools has been watered down.”

The committee reiterated the need to promote crime prevention messages to the public to help people protect themselves.

Coun Martin-Wells said: “It’s so easy just to check you have locked that shed up. An open shed is an open invitation.”

Deliberate fires were down by 27% at 99 incidents compared to 135 previously.

Anti-social behaviour remained static at around 1,600 incidents.