From sirens and scrap to specials

THE head of Hartlepool Police is putting answers to the questions on readers’ lips.

Hartlepool Mail readers have been invited to quiz Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, the District Commander for the town. And the police chief has been through the first series of questions submitted with his detailed responses published today.

Supt Gudgeon, who has held the role in Hartlepool for two years, is now hoping more readers get in touch and quiz him about various aspects of policing and crime in the town.

Anyone with a question to put to Supt Gudgeon should contact Mail crime reporter Mark Thompson at mark.thompson@northeast-press.co.uk, write to: Mark Thompson, Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool. TS24 8BX, direct message Mark on Twitter @MThompsonHMail or ring (01429) 239382.

All correspondence should contain a name, address and daytime contact telephone number. This information must be provided, but anonymity can be guaranteed if requested.

Speed limits

Q) I have seen police vans driving at 50mph down York Road with their sirens on.

Once they nearly hit a woman on a crossing and the drivers seem to have no control. Why don’t they stick to the speed limit in such populated places, or use a different route?

– Name and address supplied

A) Police officers are not allowed to use blue lights and two tones unless they are in pursuit of an offender and it is appropriate or they are attending an emergency call that has been assessed by the police control room that a fast response is required. This is similar to other emergency service vehicles such as ambulance or fire.

All police officers have to undergo significant training and assessment before they can use blue lights or two tones, and this is reassessed periodically.

York Road is a key arterial route in the town and officers have to make an assessment which would be the fastest and safest route to take.

Response times can make the difference between life and death and officers are trained to “drive to arrive” and not put others at risk to do so.

Officers are made well aware that if they do cause injury or damage they are accountable in the same way as any member of the public if their driving has been unsafe.

Noisy copter

Q) The new police helicopter was supposed to be quiet but it seems to hover over West View and the town centre every night causing a racket.

Is it really necessary as it wakes the whole family up?

– Name and address supplied

A) The police helicopter’s flying hours are restricted due to cost and the need for regular maintenance and therefore the use of the Helicopter is restricted to when it is deemed necessary by the police control room inspector.

The helicopter is a fantastic resource to catch criminals and locate missing persons. The helicopter is fitted with night vision and heat-seeking equipment and can cover vast areas in a short time, it has saved lives in Hartlepool.

This resource can do in minutes what a large number of officers on the ground would take hours. Sadly even new helicopters are noisy. I would encourage anyone to log onto the Cleveland Police site which highlights the helicopter’s deployment so people can see why is was deployed, I hope they think it was then worthwhile.

Metal mickey takers

Q) My question is why are the police not targeting the buyers of the stolen metals when according to the Mail it is costing the UK £1bn a year?

Why not ask for proof of ownership before buying whatever it is being offered for sale such as a receipt off the vicar for the lead off the church roof?

In my opinion the pressure must be put onto the buyers of the £1bn worth of stolen metal. The sellers should be made to produce proof of ownership before a buyer hands over any cash.

– Alan Cook, Northgate.

A) Alan, I can’t agree with you more. Sadly the legislation governing scrap yards is old and not really fit for purpose.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership has lobbied for change in the legislation to make dealers do exactly what you are asking.

There is significant pressure nationally and locally for such change.

Scrap yards in the North-East, including Hartlepool, are taking part in a pilot where they will require identification before they buy any goods.

If this is successful it should influence legislative change.

Frontline policing

Q) With the spending cuts, will there be less police in Hartlepool?

You always hear that the “frontline” is being protected but what does that really mean?

– Name and address supplied

A) Frontline, back office, there are a number of definitions nationally. I think what is important is what it means to Hartlepool. Police officers have warranted powers such as the ability to search, seize property and detain and arrest.

There are some roles in policing that do not need such warranted powers but historically have been filled by police officers because of their knowledge of policing.

Over the years a lot of these roles have been civilianised such as custody detention officers in the cell areas and call takers in the control room.

We have now taken a fresh look at other roles that could be civilianised but none of these roles are where warranted powers are needed. So we still have the same number of Neighbourhood police officers, Response police officers (24 hour response) CID, drugs and specialist investigations.

So the police officers you normally would deal with who need warranted powers are still there. In future the person who conducts a crime prevention survey, or who analyses intelligence might be a highly trained civilian.

Pavement cycling

Q) I regularly encounter young persons cycling along the pavements in central Hartlepool.

York Road and the ramp to the shopping mall are the worst.

As I grow older, it is increasingly difficult to leap out of their way.

What is the law and what is being done to stop them?

– Name and address supplied

A) People should not be cycling on the pavement and I agree they do prevent a risk to pedestrians.

Officers do deal with such offenders which is often by means of a fixed penalty ticket.

Pay freeze blues

Q) Are police officers disheartened by the announcement that their pay is being frozen and some could be paid less?

– Name and address supplied

A) This is a tough one and the answer will be different for every officer dependent on their own circumstances. A lot of officers I have spoken to are concerned that their terms and conditions are being eroded but do understand that all the public sector are in the same boat.

I have been policing for over 25 years now and am still passionate about serving the community, what I find heartening in Hartlepool is that it is a can-do town with can-do public servants who feel the same.

I am immensely proud of what I see my officers and staff do on a day-to-day basis.

We have one of the best detection rates in the UK with year on year reductions in crime and very high public satisfaction levels, and that says a lot.

One of the biggest motivators I find for my staff is when they receive positive feedback from the public who they are dedicated to serve.

Hopeful recruit

Q)When will the force be recruiting officers again?

I’m just finishing college and always wanted to be a policeman but I’ve been told everything’s been frozen.

– Name and address supplied

A) I am unable to give an exact date but doubt it will be in the next year. As forces cut back and undergo civilianisation programmes then the number of officers required reduces.

I would encourage you not to lose hope and I can give some advice.

Many forces are now recruiting only from their special constabulary, where they have tried and tested volunteers who have shown a passion to serve their community. This is becoming the case more and more in many professions.

The specials is also a good opportunity for you to really see if policing is what you want, like any job it has its good points and bad points and in an interview it clearly demonstrates commitment to your community.

Good luck, I hope to see you on the beat one day!