Cleveland Police boss says Hartlepool force leads the way in tackling cuts

CLEVELAND’s Police and Crime Commissioner says Hartlepool Police is a “good model of practice” for how to work with partner organisations to survive the Government’s crippling cuts.

And Barry Coppinger also claimed public confidence in Cleveland Police remains high despite the high profile Operation Sacristy which investigated cases of misconduct within the force.

PCSO Graham Handley with Barry Coppinger in Murray Street

PCSO Graham Handley with Barry Coppinger in Murray Street

Mr Coppinger has outlined 34 actions he will focus on over the next 12 months as part of his Police and Crime Plans.

As well as working with other agencies, Mr Coppinger’s priorities also involve retaining and developing neighbourhood policing, delivering a better deal for victims and witnesses, diverting people from offending and valuing those who deliver community safety services.

On the day his plan was unveiled, Mr Coppinger spent the morning in Hartlepool with officers on the streets. He joined officers in carrying out four arrest warrants in the town before heading back to Hartlepool Police Station, in Avenue Road, for a video conference with detectives and PCSOs from across the force before going back out on to the streets with local PCSOs.

“Hartlepool is a model of good practice for policing,” said Mr Coppinger.

“Lots of officers who work here also live here, they have an understanding of the town and Hartlepool Police has a good relationship with partner agencies.”

After three years of investigations and findings, the Crown Prosecution Service announced there will be no criminal charges following Operation Sacristy in March.

Former chief constable Sean Price and deputy chief constable Derek Bonnard were sacked over allegations of gross misconduct while former Cleveland Police Authority chairman Dave McLuckie was jailed after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice. It emerged the bill for Operation Sacristy and the misconduct hearings reached almost £4m while the force’s reputation also took a major hit.

But Mr Coppinger said: “You would be surprised at how little it (Operation Sacristy) has affected public confidence.

“There have been a lot of changes at the top and when I go along to many residents’ meetings people are always saying to me what a fantastic job their local officers are doing.”

Cleveland Police is now looking to increase the number of special constables within the force to 200.

In January last year Cleveland Police had 98 special constables but that number has since dropped to 68.

Special constables are volunteer police officers with the same powers as regular officers who must commit to at least four hours per week of duty time.

Mr Coppinger said special constables in Hartlepool are often involved in dealing with antisocial behaviour in the town centre, particularly at weekends, and are used across the force to compliment the work carried out by regular officers.

The PCC also revealed he has attended 21 community meetings and events in Hartlepool and a further 19 partnership meetings since he took office in November 2012.