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Hartlepool MP’s crime crisis fears as offences continue to rise

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More needs to be done to help ‘underfunded and understaffed’ police as crime figures continue to rise, the Hartlepool MP has said.

Town MP Mike Hill said action needs to be taken to prevent a ‘crisis’ as quarterly crime figures continue to rise, as they have done since December 2015.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill

As part of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, quarterly figures are released from The Office for National Statistics, comparing the number of crimes recorded to the same three months the previous year.

Crime figures have been showing rises since the statistics for October to December 2015, when total recorded crime dropped 6% from 1,997 to 2,124 from the same months in 2014.

The latest figures from April to June 2018 have shown a 3% rise in total crime from the same months in 2017, an increase of 2,721 to 2,803.

This included a 112% rise in the number of public disorder offences to 185, and a rise by a quarter in the number of crimes involving violence against people to 753.

Hartlepool Council Leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.  Picture: TOM BANKS

Hartlepool Council Leader Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture: TOM BANKS

This is one of the lowest increases recorded during the time period, other than the 1.6% increase between April and June 2016 from the previous year.

From January to March this year crime rose almost 12% from 2,433 to 2,718, while from October to December 2017 crime rose 23% from 2,224 to 2,734.

Annual crime figures have also been on the rise for Hartlepool for the past four years and in 2017 crime rose 21% from 8,680 to 10,488.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said: “That the figures have been rising every quarter during this time of government cuts is no great surprise.

Barry Coppinger

Barry Coppinger

“Our police are underfunded and understaffed.

“We need an end to the cuts so that local authorities have the resources to properly police the streets.

“What resources the police do have are being required to stretch themselves thin.

“Our police do a fantastic job, the problem is that there aren’t enough of them to stop rising levels of crime.

“We have to end austerity now before this situation becomes a crisis.”

The last time crime decreased annually was 2013/14 when the the number of recorded incidents dropped almost 5% from 6,491 to 6,193.

Figures for 2012/13 showed an even bigger drop from the previous year, as crime fell almost 10% from 7,189 to 6,492.

Hartlepool Neighbourhood Policing Team said the consistent rise is a reflection of the national picture and they are looking to improve contact with residents to cut down on crime.

Chief Inspector Nigel Burnell said the latest figures do show promising signs for the area going forward however.

He said: “We have seen increases in recorded crime mirroring the national picture.

“However the recent report highlights decreases in a number of areas, including: sexual offences which are down nearly 30%, acquisitive crime down by nearly 9% overall, robbery down more than 22%, criminal damage/arson down 10.6%, as well as bicycle theft down 30.4%.

“The new Community Safety Team works closely with partner agencies in an effort to address the causes of issues and crime and disorder – and to intervene early where we can to prevent matters escalating.

“We want to hear about community concerns so we can work with the public and further improve the problem solving approach we take.

“We have weekly drop in sessions at community hubs across the town to improve contact.”

The importance of the Community Safety Team in helping to reduce crime was also highlighted by authorities at the latest Safer Hartlepool Partnership meeting.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, Hartlepool Borough Council leader, said: “Some of the signs are good.

“Vehicle crime, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour are some of the areas that have been targeted to reduce crime and we have been tackling them.

“I know we have had increases in some of the areas but that is to be expected.

“Some of the results coming through show it’s really benefiting Hartlepool as a whole.”

Barry Coppinger,  Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said: “It’s not just the residents in Hartlepool, it’s the businesses, the community groups, it’s everyone, it would help a great deal.”

Police also reminded residents that they can report anti-social behaviour or request support and crime prevention advice from the Community Safety Team by phoning 01429 523100 during office hours (or can also phone Cleveland Police via 101, or 999 in an emergency).