Mike Hill MP: Police cuts have an impact on public safety

Funding for Cleveland Police is down 39% in last seven years.
Funding for Cleveland Police is down 39% in last seven years.

I was at a residents’ meeting earlier this week in the Burn Valley Ward, where one of the subjects raised was the noticeable lack of a visible police presence on the streets.

Police cuts are clearly having an effect on public safety, and a recently leaked report from the Home Office admits that the drop in officer numbers is a contributory factor to increases in levels of crime.

As I have said on previous occasions, funding has fallen in real terms for Cleveland Police by 39% over the past seven years, resulting in the loss of 450 officers and 50 PCSOs.

With all the pressures a modern police force has to face, such as cyber crime, it really is no wonder that the days of the ‘Bobby’ on the beat are perceptively long gone in the eyes of many people, and that citizens and communities are feeling abandoned and under threat.

It strikes me that the only person out of touch on this matter is the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, whose comments this week about increased investment to police budgets flew in the face of her own department’s analysis. We really do need to put politics aside and make our communities safe again by properly resourcing our police.

Speaking of which, Cleveland Police have been in the spotlight lately over the tragic shooting of a dog left abandoned on land near Mainsforth Terrace.

Quite rightly, people have asked questions about why the dog ended up being shot, and are calling for all the agencies involved on the day, not just the police, to give answers.

But more importantly they are campaigning for lessons to be learnt, better cross-agency working and a protocol for dealing with strays or abandoned dogs in the future.

On Sunday a group called Justice For Angel, the name they have given to the dog, held a vigil close to the site of the shooting and I was happy to go along and support them – not to condemn and instantly judge any of the organisations involved, but to call for the facts to be made clear and for measures to be put in place to hopefully prevent this from happening again.

It may be recess but work goes on in the constituency and by the end of this week I will have held two surgeries; had two meetings on the proposed health village; met the CAB; the Tamil community; the Hartlepool Diabetes Group; Claremont Apparment Residents’ Group; Residents at St Joseph’s Court; the Raindrops to Rainbows charity; Brian the poet; the Trades Council; visited the Postal Depot; St Aidan’s Soup Kitchen; and attended the 100 years celebration of the RAF organised by Hartlepool RAFA.

All of the usual casework has continued apace, of course. In light of which, I would like to praise Pete Widlinski, who isn’t from Hartlepool, but has helped many people in the town.

Pete is retiring from ‘Justice First’, a charity specialising in assisting asylum seekers.

There are relatively few in Hartlepool compared with neighbouring towns, but where there has been genuine need for help, and believe me there has, Pete and his team have always been there to assist. They certainly have done some invaluable work for my office and I wish him all the best.