Cleveland Police chief constable’s pledge to Hartlepool residents after damning report labels it 'inadequate'

The top policeman at Cleveland Police has promised Hartlepool residents the force will improve after a damning inspection report rated it inadequate in all areas.

Friday, 27th September 2019, 11:45 am
Cleveland Police Chief Constable Richard Lewis
Cleveland Police Chief Constable Richard Lewis

The force received the lowest possible rating in each of three main inspection areas for effectiveness at preventing and investigating crime, protecting vulnerable people and tackling serious organised crime; how efficiently they manage demand and plan for the future; and how legitimately they treat the public, how ethically they behave, and how they treat their workforce.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) says the performance of Cleveland Police has significantly gone down since their last inspection.

They include a ‘significant deterioration’ in how the force prevents crime and anti-social behaviour, many crimes are not always allocated to appropriately trained staff, or investigated thoroughly enough, vulnerable people are not being adequately protected and there is a lack of ethical behaviour among senior officers.

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Cleveland Police Community Safety Hub in Hemlington

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Richard Lewis, who joined the force in April, says work has already begun to deliver improvements but admits it will take ‘many months and years’.

Residents in Hartlepool have complained of a lack of faith in reporting issues on the 101 police number due to the poor response they receive.

And concerns were raised about level of coverage Hartlepool receives after a BBC news report last winter revealed the town had just 10 officers on duty for the whole town on a Saturday night.

Chief Constable Lewis told the Mail: “We accept in Cleveland Police the report in its entirety and want to thank Her Majesty’s inspectors for the hard work they did.

“There are numerous things we need to put right. I can’t do that alone.

“There are many months and years of improvement ahead of us which I will personally deliver on.

“I intend to be here for many years to come to ensure stability and see through these changes.”

He said this summer’s Operation Phoenix has focussed on a priorty area of tackling domestic abuse and supporting vulnerable children as well as numerous drug raids carried out across the town.

A recruitment drive for 100 new officers is currently underway.

And Chief Constable Lewis said they have reorganised their budget so that resources are redirected to the frontline.

Addressing concerns of the 101 phone service, he said the force is investing heavily in its control room to make sure phones are answered as quickly as possibly and officers dispatched where necessary.

“That hasn’t happened consistently enough,” he said. “When people phone the police they must expect that the police will attend, if it’s a police related matter.

“The structures we’ve had internally doesn’t always facilitate that so the changes we’re making will in the months and years to come make sure the response is far quicker than it has been.”

He added: “We are bringing in 100 new police officers. We are reorganising our budget to make sure as many resources are on the frontline as possible where their impact can be most visibly seen.

“This is the line in the sand. It’s improvement from here on in.”

Chief Constable Lewis said the force hopes to see its rating improve to Good in the next five years and outstanding like Durham Constabulary in the next six or seven years.

“That is achievable,” he said. “We need the help of our communities and partners to do it but I’m confident we will.”