New Cleveland Police Chief Constable praises teamwork happening in Hartlepool

The new Chief Constable of Cleveland Police has praised the teamwork going on in Hartlepool to tackle anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood crime on his first visit to the town.

Welshman Richard Lewis, 43, was announced in the top job last month following the resignation of former Chief Constable Mike Veale after less than a year.

Richard Lewis Chief Constable Cleveland Police Force and Police Commissioner Barry Coppinger walking around the town centre area of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

Richard Lewis Chief Constable Cleveland Police Force and Police Commissioner Barry Coppinger walking around the town centre area of Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

Chief Constable Lewis paid a visit on Friday to the Hartlepool Community Safety Team which is made up of police, council staff and Cleveland Fire Brigade who work closely together from Hartlepool Police Station to better tackle community issues.

Chief Constable Lewis said: “It’s heartwarming to see how the agencies in Hartlepool are working as seamlessly as they do.

“There’s really good practice here.”

He said he hoped to see similar work take place across the whole force area as part of proactive work and preventative crime measures.

Richard Lewis Chief Constable Cleveland Police Force. Picture by FRANK REID

Richard Lewis Chief Constable Cleveland Police Force. Picture by FRANK REID

“I’m not aware of any issues that can be solved by a single agency,” he said.

Afterwards, along with Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, he met residents on a walkabout in Hartlepool town centre and MP Mike Hill.

Mr Coppinger said: “I was very keen for Hartlepool to be the first place he visits to see the work of the force.

“The community safety team has made some great strides in recent months and I think it’s a great example to the rest of the Cleveland area and North East.”

Chief Con Lewis said he is spending his first few weeks listening to colleagues before setting priorities.

He said: “It’s going to take some time to do that listening first before we set those priorities and to ensure that we understand precisely what the problems are before jumping to action.”

He said it was important to learn from previous allegations within Cleveland Police of racism and misconduct by certain officers, but said everyone in the force is focussed on being the best it can be in the future.

Responding to concerns about a shortage of police cover for Hartlepool, Chief Con Lewis said: “There isn’t a chief constable in the country who wouldn’t tell you that he or she needs more resources and of course that is true for here as it is for anywhere else.

“What I want my staff to focus on is the resources that we do have and what we can do with those resources.”