Reopening Hartlepool police cells is among new crime commissioner's 'first priorities'
Cleveland’s new police and crime commissioner says reopening Hartlepool’s mothballed custody cells will be one of his “first priorities”.
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Steve Turner used his first day in office to set out his vision to get tough on crime, recruit more police officers and improve support for victims.
Mr Turner, who was elected for the Conservatives last Friday with 54% of the vote, insists one of his “first priorities” will be to reopen Hartlepool’s custody suite.
It was a campaign issue – both in the PCC election and recent Parliamentary by-election – with Mr Turner describing the 2019 move to mothball the cells as a “body blow” to the town and Labour candidate Matthew Storey also promising to reopen them.
Mr Turner is now “confident I can deliver the majority of the commitments I promise within my first year as PCC”.
He said: “People are sick of seeing drug dealing out in the open and on their streets, with the perception that very little action is being taken.
"Whole communities feel blighted by relentless antisocial behaviour and our rural communities feel out on a limb in comparison with our well-policed urban areas.
"Working with Chief Constable Richard Lewis, I want to make Cleveland Police a force residents know will keep them safe and can take real pride in.”
Opponents of the mothballing decision said it meant officers had to take lengthy journeys to Middlesbrough with suspects when they could have been dealing with other issues in Hartlepool.
Mr Turner spent his first day in office speaking with Chief Constable Lewis, who said: “The role of the PCC is important to our ongoing work as they allocate funding to areas of policing, and commission services from outside agencies through their Police and Crime Plan.
“Our Towards 2025 Plan and programme of service improvement are delivering real results, making local people’s lives better, empowering leaders, and improving the workplace.”
Technology also plays a key role in Mr Turner’s ambitions to improve the force’s response to crime.
They include greater use of technology including drones – recently used over Summerhill and Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool – and an app for victims to report crime.
The commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan setting out his priorities in more detail is due for publication in the summer.