Cleveland Chief Constable promises more police will patrol Hartlepool's streets

Cleveland’s new chief constable has promised that Hartlepool will see more police on its streets within months.

By Gavin Ledwith
Saturday, 29 June, 2019, 06:00
New Cleveland Police Chief Constable Richard Lewis during a visit to Hartlepool.

Chief Constable Richard Lewis admits residents in town have already told him they want extra bobbies on the beat and intends to grant their plea by the “end of the summer and the beginning of autumn”.

A new neighbourhood policing strategy will see existing staff redeployed to front-line duties while Hartlepool will also receive a share of 80 new officers to be recruited by the end of the year.

Chief Constable Richard Lewis, left and Cleveland Police Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, centre, chat to a resident during a previous visit to Hartlepool.

He was speaking at the end of a week in which the town’s officers continue a string of violent crime investigations.

Following a separate incident in the Furness Street area of Raby Road on Tuesday, a man is recovering from stab wounds with two suspects now bailed.

Detectives have also made 11 arrests in connection with the death of Michael Phillips, 39, in Rydal Street, on June 10 with two men facing murder charges and a further eight still under investigation.

While unable to comment specifically on these ongoing cases, Chief Con Lewis, who took over the troubled force two months ago, said: “Violent crime is a concern across Teesside as an area.

“We need a violent crime strategy as we do not have one at the moment.

“We also need a forum with our partners in health, schools and education to discuss knife crime across Hartlepool and Teesside as a whole.

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“All of this does not happen overnight but the process is already underway and I anticipate more neighbourhood police by the end of the summer and beginning of autumn.

“We have also asked for a review of our finance and fundings and we have found the funding for 80 officers extra for as soon as we can.

“Inevitably some of the officers will be in Hartlepool.”

Chief Con Lewis said he intends to visit Hartlepool “as often as possible” – “I was there earlier in the week” – amid repeated accusations that the force is Middlesbrough-centric.

He added: “People in the North East and Hartlepool are an honest bunch. They will tell you what they think. They want more officers on the beat and a better level of services.

“What it is important to say as well is that they are impressed with the officers they do see and I think our officers do a great job and are the equal to police elsewhere in the country.”

In an open letter to Cleveland residents, the new boss is one of three of the force’s leading officers to admit: “As an organisation we’ve identified that our performance is not good enough and this means we’re letting people down, putting people at risk and failing those who need our help the most.”

Among the initiatives they hope will lead to “significant improvements” is a performance management structure in which officers will be encouraged to stick with particular problems until they are solved.

Chief Con Lewis, who joined Cleveland from Dyfed-Powys Police, in Wales, said: “Domestic violence, for instance, has a high rate of repeat offending across Hartlepool and Cleveland. We want that to stop.”