HARTLEPOOL is to see almost half of its force of Police Community Support Officers axed.
The dramatic loss of the town’s PCSOs – from 41 officers to 24 through re-deployment or redundancy - comes as Cleveland Police is forced to slash its workforce as Government funding cuts bite.
And as part of the cost-cutting, police chiefs are trialling a new policing model for Hartlepool with the remaining PCSOs working alongside police constables and plain-clothes CID detectives together in one “super-hub” office.
Police bosses informed councillors of the move at a meeting at Hartlepool Civic Centre last night
Despite losing 17 PCSOs, the controversial reshuffle will see the town left with a total of four fewer officers than the current Neighbourhood Policing scheme, which saw a combined 68 police constables and PCSOs working from neighbourhood offices, and CID in a separate office within Hartlepool Police Station.
Residents will be left with 64 officers working from the new combined office made up of:
• 24 PCSOs
• 28 police constables
• 12 detective constables
There will also be an additional nine more senior posts, including two detective sergeants, four sergeants, one detective inspector, and two inspectors.
Police chiefs, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Spittal, Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang, and Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, were grilled over the changes at the meeting.
Chf Supt Lang said: “We need to ensure that we’ve got people in the right place in terms of what the need is, and Hartlepool is one of the quieter places. It’s as simple as that.
“It’s not going to happen straight away, it’s going to be over 18 months to two years.
“There’s a lot more to neighbourhood policing than high visibility, and now what we’ve got is 12 detectives tackling neighbourhood crime. The total numbers are not that much different.
“They are now all working together in the same office as pcsos and sharing intelligence and hopefully putting us in a better position to tackle crime and disorder in Hartlepool.”
He added: “Hartlepool has had two years of being disproportionately well off in terms of pcsos compared to everywhere else.
“It’s just unfortunate that this movement of resources comes at a time when we also have to lose some posts.”
Hartlepool will have 24 PCSOs, while Redcar and Cleveland will have 28, Middlesbrough, 42, and Stockton, 38.
The break-down was calculated by looking at crime figures and social factors.