Letter of the law

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COMMUNITY cops want residents to post tip-offs to help them send drug dealers and burglars to jail.

People are being urged to become the “eyes and ears” of the police and drop in notes at new “bobby boxes” in Hartlepool.

The 20 metal containers have been bolted to the walls of libraries, schools, churches and shops so they can be discreetly used by passers-by.

Police chiefs say the units will be regularly emptied and any information given will be acted upon, from targeting nuisance neighbours to suspected drug dealing.

Acting Chief Inspector Lee Rukin, of Hartlepool Police, said the scheme is part of officers becoming “more innovative” with how they tackle criminals as they face tighter funding and less resources.

And he believes the public has a huge role to play in continuing to cut crime in Hartlepool, which saw a two per cent reduction over the last year, as residents are the first to notice strange or nuisance behaviour.

Acting Chief Insp Rukin told the Mail: “These bobby boxes have been strategically placed and give people an easy way to contact the police, being our eyes and ears and feeding us vital information.

“I understand some people are afraid to give information to the police, so this is a way to reach out to those who might not have the confidence to come forward, might fear reprisals or don’t want to be seen talking to a police officer. It’s completely anonymous.

“They can drop a note in and it will be acted upon and will give a greater insight into the issues affecting our communities.

“It will help us target burglars, drug dealers, thieves and those who blight people’s lives with anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.”

The boxes are now up across the south of Hartlepool, in Seaton Carew, Rossmere, Owton Manor, Fens and Greatham, and will be “live” from today.

Acting Chief Insp Rukin is hopeful that they will be well used and more will be put up in the near future to cover the entire town.

He added: “I hope this becomes a valuable tool and one that people want to see in their area.

“The police are constantly looking at new ways of cost saving and improving community relationships between the police and residents and this is another example of that.”

The scheme, which is being led by the police, has been funded by the Joint Action Group (JAG) through the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.

Acting Chief Insp Rukin stresses that the boxes are a way of contacting police for crimes which do not require an immediate response.

For more serious issues, visit a police station or phone Cleveland Police on 101 or 999 for emergencies.