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‘Less police than ever’ sees councillors call for more bobbies on the beat

Calls for more police on the streets.
Calls for more police on the streets.

Council bosses have called for more police on the beat in Hartlepool after figures showed a rise in crime.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee received information on the figures which showed a 3% overall rise in crime from April to June compared to the same time last year.

Councilor Rob Cook.

Councilor Rob Cook.

But the rise in crime was the ‘smallest increase in the Cleveland force area’, Kate Ainger, from the council’s community safety and engagement team said.

Committee members said police are having to cover larger areas than ever due to funding cuts and stressed the importance of reporting crimes.

Coun Rob Cook said: “I’m aware we have less police than have ever had before.

“You don’t see PCSOs or police on the street much these days.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

“One of the other problems is people need to report crimes.

“In my ward there is a shop owner facing problems but he doesn’t ring up because he knows he’s wasting his time.

“By the time police get there they’ve gone or they won’t be able to find who did it.”

Coun Ged Hall said: “Police are absolutely over-stretched.

“There was a PCSO at our recent residents meeting who used to cover Burn Valley, now he has to do the whole town.

“I think the police are doing a sterling job, but they are very overstretched.”

Co-opted member of the committee Claire Wilson also praised her experiences with the police, as when she had her car broken into and sat nav stolen she said they did ‘more than expected’.

The figures showed public reported crime dropped in Hartlepool, with the number of sexual offences dropping 40%, robberies by 22% and criminal damage and arson attacks falling by 11%.

However the number of public disorder offences increased by 98 to 185, a rise of more than 112%, which contributed to the rise in crime overall.

Ms Ainger said a lot of the incidents were linked to the night-time economy, and listed the World Cup and warm weather as factors.

Councillors also called for representatives from the police force or the Police and Crime and Commissioners Office to attend the next meeting to provide more information.

Coun Cook said: “I don’t think our figures are always a true reflection.

“We need to know how many of these crimes were caught and prosecuted also.”

Coun Lesley Hamilton said: “I really wish there was a representative from the police service here to explain the figures.”

Commenting after the meeting, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said a drop in government funding has resulted in a decrease in officers, but he pledged his continued support to neighbourhood policing.

He said: “In Cleveland government funding to Cleveland Police has been cut by £39m in real terms over the past seven years.

“This has resulted in the loss of over 500 officers.

“It was only by increasing the local police precept by £12 this year that we were able to prevent a further 60 job losses.

“I continue to support neighbourhood policing and want to see the re-assuring presence of a uniformed beat bobby as an integral part of local communities across Cleveland.”

The next meeting will take place on Thursday, October 18, at 10am.