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Calls for PCSOs at council ward surgeries after concerns from residents and councillors

Police cuts
Police cuts

Concerns have been raised over the lack of police officers at ward surgeries by both councillors and residents.

Speaking at Hartlepool Borough Council’s North and Coastal Community Forum, councillors voiced concerns about their safety at evening ward meetings.

Meanwhile residents also spoke about the lack of PCSOs attending meetings, resulting in not having the chance to inform them about issues in the area.

Coun Sue Little, representing the Seaton ward, was one of those who voiced worries of holding surgeries without a police or enforcement presence, citing risks of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Coun Rob Cook also supported her concerns of councillors being on their own after the death of MP Jo Cox in 2016.

He said: “We are all aware of what happened with the tragic death of the MP.

“Being on your own can be a big concern, and dialling 999 there is that time for police to get to you.

“If it was my wife being left on her own at night I’d be worried.

“I know it’s not easy for the PCSOs with everything else they have to do and the cuts.

“I don’t know how we do it, but it would be nice if we could get some resolution.”

Coun Brenda Harrison said residents had also shared worries about the lack of police at ward surgeries for them to speak to about issues in their area.

She said: “I would suggest even if they got to one every now and then, one in every three or four, just to be there for people to make contact with.

“I think it would be useful.”

Chief Inspector Nigel Burnell of Cleveland Police said he would investigate the concerns, but warned people need to move away from expecting police at ward meetings due to resources.

He said: “We’re aware of the national debate on ward surgeries, I’ll look into that, it does concern me.

“We cannot guarantee we can get someone there, PCSOs are getting more responsibilities for problem solving.

“We’ve got to put them to the best use we can.

“We have to get away from the idea of expecting a police presence at ward surgeries and move towards problem solving.

“The time spent sat in meetings they could be out working on solving problems reported to us.”

He also advised residents looking to speak to police can attend weekly Hartlepool Community Safety Team hubs or contact the team on 01429 523100 or community.safety@hartlepool.gov.uk.

Details of when the community hubs are held are available on www.hartlepool.gov.uk/saferhartlepool.