Hartlepool council officials ‘alarmed’ by £64m cost of crime

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COUNCIL officials have described the £64m cost of crime in Hartlepool as “alarming” but have warned the true cost to victims will never be known.

A report by the Safer Hartlepool Partnership revealed the estimated cost as part of an action plan for the next three years, as reported by the Mail.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

But senior councillors say what the headline figure doesn’t include is the impact on victims, in terms of how crimes affect their lives afterwards.

The Partnership report also revealed reported hate crimes has rocketed in Hartlepool 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.

But despite the staggering cost, overall crime is down by 185 less crimes, and police and council chiefs have pledged to continue to work “extremely hard”.

The report was discussed by Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee, chaired by independent councillor Keith Fisher.

Coun Fisher, a retired magistrate, said: “The amount of money is the amount of money, but personally, I’m more concerned about what you can’t count and that is the impact crime has on the innocent victims, not so much the financial, but the way they have to deal with it.”

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher added: “The true cost will probably never be known but the figure of £64m is alarming.

“I am also deeply concerned that the Government seems to be moving more responsibility onto local authorities but then cutting the budgets.

“Therefore, we need to make sure that our strategy is right and that we are dealing with the problems.”

The report also revealed 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.

Also that acquisitive crime is up by 10 per cent to 3,102 incidents, an increase of 285 crimes.

The Partnership’s priorities include reducing the harm caused by drug and alcohol misuse and reduce offending and re-offending.

The report, which coincides with a scrutiny investigation into reducing re-offending rates in Hartlepool, was noted by the committee members.