Cleveland Police placed under ‘special measures’ by national watchdog

Cleveland Police has been placed under observation by the national watchdog.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 17:40 pm
Cleveland Police Hartlepool Chief Constable Richard Lewis

Chief Constable Richard Lewis has written to stakeholders across the force area, inviting them to a consultation event next month – and revealing the force is being placed under observation.

“As you will all know, Cleveland Police has been subject to the national programme of inspection led by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS),” says the letter.

“The Commissioner and I have been informed that following on from that inspection in May 2019, Cleveland Police will enter the national oversight process to support the Force to drive forward its programme of improvement.”

Cleveland County Police Commissioner Barry Coppinger

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An HMICFRS spokesman said: “HMICFRS conducts annual Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.

“The most recent PEEL inspection of Cleveland Police was carried out in May 2019. As is standard practice, an early draft of the PEEL inspection report has been shared with the new Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner of Cleveland Police to consider how to respond.

“Following on from that inspection, Cleveland Police will enter HMICFRS’s national oversight process, to help the force improve. HMICFRS’s finalised PEEL inspection report into Cleveland Police is due for publication at the end of September 2019.”

In a statement, Mr Lewis said: “In June, I made a pledge to our communities that Cleveland Police would make the decisive improvements necessary to become a truly public service focused organisation with prevention at its heart.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

“It has always been my approach to be honest and transparent with the public we serve. I will continue to be honest about the scale of change necessary and demonstrate to our communities what we’re already doing to make improvements.

“As part of this I have written to leaders throughout our area, outlining the issues we face and inviting them to meet me at a specially convened event in September.

“Over my early months in the North East, I have been deeply impressed by the quality of leaders across different sectors and industries and the passion with which they talk about this area and its people. I will doubtlessly want to draw upon those different areas of expertise over the coming years.

“Our communities continue to have my absolute commitment that we’re already working tirelessly to make significant improvements and when necessary we will bring in experts from outside Cleveland Police to support us. We hope that the public will continue to show support for our front-line officers and staff while challenging us to live up to our pledge.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “The strategic direction I issued to the Chief Constable, communication with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and the Chief Constable’s own assessment since taking post earlier this year provide a clear understanding of the challenges that lie ahead.

“It is for the Chief Constable to now prioritise the actions required and deploy the resources available to maximum affect in order to deliver the necessary change required and raise standards of policing for our local communities and I will hold him to account for that.

“I shall continue to campaign for fairer funding for the force in order to provide the Chief with additional police officers, which are so vital for crucial areas of policing including neighbourhood teams and pro-active, preventative policing.

“I welcome the chance to engage with HMICFRS in the national oversight process. I have always believed the best way to deliver public services is through a partnership approach, including residents, local businesses, public and voluntary sectors and I therefore welcome and support the decision of the Chief Constable to outline his plans to key stakeholders.”

But Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen called on Mr Coppinger to resign in light of the news: “Today’s announcement is long overdue,” he said.

“Under the leadership of the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, we’ve had journalists’ phones being hacked, we’ve had accusations of institutional racism, we’ve had millions of pounds worth of compensation paid out, we’ve had more Chief Constables than I’ve had hot dinners and we now see that HMI have put the force into special measures.

“This is beyond tragic.

“This is an organisation whose main purpose is to uphold the law and to protect the public and it is patently failing at both. It’s now so serious that for the Police and Crime Commissioner not to resign would be an embarrassment for the force and for Barry personally.

“Teesside deserves so much better than this. We should be proud of our force and proud of our officers and until Barry goes, this will be impossible to achieve.”