A POLICE commissioner has moved to reassure the people of Hartlepool that cuts to his force will not affect the front line service the public receives.
Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said the residents of Hartlepool should not be worried by savings cuts to Cleveland Police of 25 per cent by 2016. He said the cuts were being managed by restructuring the force and reducing senior and management costs.
Mr Coppinger – who spoke to the Mail following his first year in office – said: “We’re having to reduce the costs of Cleveland Police as a result of Government cuts. We are managing that by restructuring the force and reducing senior and management costs but not to effect the service that the public receives on the front line.”
Mr Coppinger said the York Road Neighbourhood Office closure was a concern but said he would prefer to plough money into manpower rather than buildings.
“The Neighbourhood Office shutting in Hartlepool has been a big concern,” he said.
“Cleveland Police had an agreement to fund it for a number of years but that has passed now. We want to make sure that we put all our resources into people rather than buildings and we’ve got to the situation now where we’ve got to maintain our commitment to serving on the front line. Good neighbourhood policing involves neighbourhood officers being available, and there’s no reason why that amount of contact cannot be maintained.”
He added: “I’m concerned about the cuts, I’m concerned that we are having to make such large cuts from the policing budgets but all we can do is minimise the impact on the service residents receive from the police.”
Mr Coppinger also said despite the force’s reputation being tarred over the past several years following episodes of controversy like Operation Sacristy, there was a lot of good work by the majority of officers which should be valued.
“There have been issues with a minority of people but I can’t comment further as there are still investigations going on into that,” he said.
Operation Sacristy – a probe into Cleveland Police Authority – saw former chief constable Sean Price and his former assistant Derek Bonnard arrested. Mr Bonnard was released without charge while Mr Price remains on bail. Both were sacked for gross misconduct.