Confidence up despite probe

Jacqui Cheer temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police. Picture by FRANK REID
Jacqui Cheer temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police. Picture by FRANK REID

A POLICE force have come top of a national confidence survey despite an ongoing criminal probe into some of its dealings.

Cleveland Police have been named top of a public poll for the second year running despite the current investigation into Cleveland Police Authority (CPA).

Jacqui Cheer, Temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police

Jacqui Cheer, Temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police

A survey showed that 64 per cent of people quizzed “strongly agreed” or “tended to agree” when asked if police and local councils were dealing with issues that matter to them.

Temporary Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer joined the force after Chief Constable Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard were arrested and suspended last year as part of Operation Sacristy, which is looking into matters relating to CPA contracts and assets.

She pointed to the five per cent drop in crime between September 2010 to September 2011 as the reason why the public are so pleased.

She said: “These confidence figures are a tribute to our police officers, police staff and partnership staff who work together to deliver a first class policing service to the communities of Cleveland, despite the difficult challenges faced by the force.

“It is this resilience and commitment that will drive Cleveland Police forward over the coming weeks and months and I am pleased to lead such a dedicated force.”

Crime went on to spike from October to December last year, the latest figures available, with the force seeing a 15 per cent rise in those three months and Hartlepool a 19 per cent jump. Hartlepool saw a slight overall crime rise of 0.8 per cent last year as Cleveland had a 2.7 per cent increase.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond, who was recently named chairman of CPA, said the force needs the continued support of other agencies as it deals with government cutbacks.

He said: “We know that it will be a challenge to maintain the high performance levels we have achieved in recent years and we will be working with the chief constable and the force senior management team to target those types of crime giving particular concern.”

Operation Sacristy has so far led to five arrests, while 10 people and three organisations have been pinpointed as part of the inquiry.

There are currently 24 police officers and staff from the West Yorkshire, Warwickshire and North Yorkshire police forces working on the matter.

In August, detectives arrested Mr Price and Mr Bonnard. More recently, Councillor Dave McLuckie, who stood down from his role as chairman of the CPA in May, was also arrested.

All three strenuously deny any allegations and are on bail without charge until April along with two other people.