Crime is costing Hartlepool £64m a year

RAID: A man is arrested
RAID: A man is arrested

CRIMINALS in Hartlepool cost the local economy an astonishing £64m a year, shocking new figures have revealed.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership has also revealed reported hate crimes has rocketed by 27 per cent, acquisitive crimes including robbery and shoplifting are on the up and the number of A&E admissions for violence in town is almost double the national average.

The statistics are included in a new report going before councillors, which reveals performance in the 12-month period up to September last year.

But despite the staggering cost, overall crime is down 2.8 per cent – or 185 less crimes than the year before – and police and council chiefs say they are working “extremely hard” to continue to slash crime figures.

The report reveals:

Hartlepool has the second highest crime rate in the Cleveland Police force area with 6,426 recorded crimes in the 12-month period or 69.8 crimes per 1,000 population - a rate higher than the national average of 66.

*It is estimated the total cost of crime in Hartlepool is £64m a year, which covers everything from prevention and damage to property to the judicial process.

*The rate of emergency hospital admissions for violence in Hartlepool, 133.8 per 100,000 population, is almost double the national average of 67.7.

*Acquisitive crime (robbery, vehicle crime, shoplifting) is up by 10 per cent to 3,102 incidents, an increase of 285 crimes.

*Anti-social behaviour is up 21 incidents to 7,460 in total.

*The number of reported hate crimes and incidents has increased by 27 per cent.

While overall crime rates may have fallen compared to 2011-12, Safer Hartlepool Partnership figures reveal the financial cost still stands at £64m.

The Partnership uses a Home Office toolkit to get the cost, which includes prevention measures, value of property stolen and the criminal justice system costs.

It estimates violence against the person crimes costing £18.9m, sexual offences an estimated £23.1m, acquisitive crime £14m and criminal damage an estimated £7.9m.

Conservative group leader, councillor Ray Martin-Wells, said: “I am flabbergasted at the figure.

“While it may only be an estimate, even if that is £10m out then it is still an astonishing amount that could be put to far better uses within the town.

“I would congratulate all those involved in helping to further cut crime figures but clearly more still needs to be done.”

Councillor Geoff Lilley, of Putting Hartlepool First, added: “To be honest I’m more surprised the crime figures have stayed as low as they have because the police are stretched as far as they can be right now.”

Coun Lilley said a lot of work had been done to cut crime through neighbourhood policing but feared the town could see an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour levels due to further cuts.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, chair of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, told the Mail: “The figure of just over £64m is an estimate of the overall economic impact that crime has on the Hartlepool community over a 12-month period.

“This includes money spent trying to prevent crime, the emotional and physical impact on victims, damage to property, the judicial process and the estimated cost of unreported crimes.

“Under the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, the council, police, fire and other key organisations are working extremely hard and closely together with a particular focus on preventing crime and when crime does occur providing the right level of support for victims.

“The significant cuts in Government funding and welfare reform changes are presenting ongoing challenges but townspeople can be assured that there will be no let-up in the efforts to ensure that Hartlepool is a safe place to live, work and visit.”

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership’s strategic assessment 2013 will be discussed on Monday by Hartlepool Borough Council’s neighbourhood services committee.

It includes a three year action plan and priorities include reducing crime and repeat victimisation, reducing the harm caused by drug and alcohol misuse, create “confident, cohesive and safe communities” and reduce offending and re-offending and a renewed focus on acquisitive crime.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership includes Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Borough Council, Cleveland Fire Brigade and Housing Hartlepool. The committee meets Monday, January 20, at 9.30am at the Civic Centre.