Cleveland Police's chief constable has called on the Government to 'give us the tools and we will do the job' says cuts have been too deep and for too long.
Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Mike Veale, was speaking after the Mail reported that volunteers in the Foggy Furze area of Hartlepool said they have no option but to take to the streets in the middle of the night following cuts to police in the town.
Resident Darren Price came up with the idea of running patrols in his community after reported increases in crime in the area.
It comes as a BBC report revealed there were no police officers in Hartlepool to respond to emergencies at one point last Saturday night due to all those on duty deployed elsewhere including having to transport suspects to Middlesbrough.
Just this week Cleveland Police has launched a consultation on plans to close the Custody Suite at Hartlepool Police Station and transport suspects to be questioned in Middlesbrough when they are arrested.
Chief Constable Mike Veale said:“It’s absolutely right that local people expect safe streets and secure homes; this is at the heart of British policing. We will get more officers out into our communities and that is what we’re doing through a root and branch review of our services and transformation of the technology we use.
"But we must remember that it is not just about uniformed colleagues patrolling the streets anymore, as it was 20 or 30 years ago. An officer on the streets means an officer not looking after children online, not investigating crimes such as murder, rape and complex cases of child abuse or domestic violence. These are the challenges we face, and we will meet them head on.
“These are complex issues and while simply crying ‘austerity’ is not good enough no one in policing today can claim it isn’t a factor. Forces across the country including Cleveland are more efficient and more effective than ever before but despite this efficiency the service we are providing the public is nowhere near where it needs to be.
“I would not be exhibiting the courage that my officers and staff deserve if I continue to say we have enough resources, if I continue with this commentary that things in policing are okay. They are not okay. The cuts created and caused by austerity are too deep and have gone on for too long.
“We have brilliant people doing a brilliant job but we do not have enough of them and the facts speak for themselves. It is about time that trend was reversed so that we can protect our communities, protect the most vulnerable and protect everyday people who go about their business and protect them with courage, kindness and compassion.
“My message is clear; give us the tools and we will do the job.”
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill is seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Veale and Cleveland' Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger over a ‘frightening’ levels of police covering the town.
Mr Coppinger has called on the Government to take notice after funding to Cleveland Police has been cut by £39million (36%) in real terms over the past seven years, resulting in the loss of over 500 police officers and 50 police community support officers.
Mr Veale said staff are working hard every day to keep communities safe and locking up criminals.
He added: “Every day of the week there are officers and staff out on our streets keeping people safe and protecting our communities by showing the utmost courage.
"Policing in the 21st Century is a risky business where criminals are more sophisticated, more resourceful and more dangerous than they ever have been before.
"Every day of the week that courage and tenacity results in dangerous criminals being locked up, vulnerable people being protected and members of the public helped in their greatest hour of need.
“Within a few months of my joining Cleveland Police as the Chief Constable I made it clear to all my staff that I want them to push the boundaries, be on the front foot, be in the face of criminals and be audacious in their approach.
"Those who say that the police service has had a culture of blame where risk aversion has been debilitating and impaired the trust and confidence of leadership in rank and file are right. This will not happen in my force."