Less bobbies on the beat in Hartlepool as the face of crime changes

PCSO Graham Handley with Barry Coppinger in Murray Street
PCSO Graham Handley with Barry Coppinger in Murray Street

A police force says the changing dynamic of crime is forcing it to alter where it ploughs its reduced resources - which could mean less bobbies on the beat.

Cleveland Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Simon Nickless says policing must evolve to cope with an increasing number of cyber crimes and other complex investigations.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Nickless.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Nickless.

But with limited resources, force bosses may have to divert officers to combatting modern-day crimes, which “boots on the ground will not disrupt.”

Asst Chief Con Nickless made the comments as the force released information showing the scale of work and types of offences officers deal with on a ‘typical day’ in 2015 – analysis which will support senior officers making decisions about where to deploy resources.

On a typical day in Cleveland, officers will make 59 arrests, carry out 37 stop and searches, deal with 121 incidents of antisocial behaviour, respond to 12 incidents flagged as being linked to mental health issues, and receive 206 999 calls. The force also receives an average of 11 missing person reports every day, which each takes around 18 hours of police time to resolve.

In addition, Cleveland Police undertakes proactive work to support 660 high-risk domestic abuse victims, 845 children and young people subject to child protection, managing around 30 organised crime groups, and managing 669 sexual offenders. This is against a backdrop of a 13 per cent reduction in officer numbers from 1,536 to 1,334 since 2012.

Evidence shows we absolutely must move on from just traditional forms of policing.

Simon Nickless

He said: “We make difficult decisions on a daily basis about where to deploy resources. Evidence shows we absolutely must move on from just traditional forms of policing, and the challenge for the police service is to look at the incoming demand from new and emerging crime types such as cyber and additional complex investigations.

“Criminals are sitting behind keyboards and conducting activity in private spaces – boots on the ground in public places do not and will not disrupt this activity.

“Each force deals with different levels of demand, one can’t be compared with another. The next step is to build on our links with partner agencies to ensure we share the responsibility for keeping our communities safe and that we manage expectations of us doing more with less.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “The ongoing demand placed on the force to protect the public from harm speaks volumes and the levels are far removed from the policing days of old. I will continue to push on the Home Secretary to reassess the budget to the police service and urge local residents to speak to their MPs on the issue as I do regularly.”