PCSOs to focus on ward issues to help combat ‘disillusion’ with police in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Police Station.
Hartlepool Police Station.

Officers are looking to take steps to reduce crime in the area after claims people ‘have become disillusioned’ by police.

Hartlepool Borough Council North and Coastal Community Forum received an update from police on issues in the area and work they have been doing.

Councillor Shane Moore.

Councillor Shane Moore.

Cleveland Police bosses said they have moved to having a PCSO focusing on each ward in Hartlepool to attend surgeries and report back on incidents in the area.

It comes after councillors said people were not reporting crimes to the police, leading to a ‘catch 22’ situation.

Coun Shane Moore said: “Part of the problem is there are people feeling disillusioned that they were calling police and no police came out.

“That has a detrimental effect, police respond to where crime is reported.

Councillor Brenda Harrison.

Councillor Brenda Harrison.

“Then as far as police are concerned when they are targeting areas they think everything is hunky dory because nothing has been reported, when we know it isn’t.”

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “It’s catch 22, people are not ringing in so it is not being logged in the police system.

“I understand going around and speaking to residents some people are disillusioned.

“This more dedicated approach hopefully will benefit the community.

“It is not the police’s fault and we can’t lose site of the fact the reason police are so stretched is because of government cuts.”

Councillors and police officers also urged people to phone in using the anonymous Crimestoppers line if they are worried about their identity being revealed.

It comes after the Mail reported that volunteers in the Foggy Furze area of Hartlepool said they have no option but to take to the streets in the middle of the night following cuts to police.

A BBC report also revealed there were no police officers in Hartlepool to respond to emergencies at one point on a Saturday night due to all those on duty deployed elsewhere including having to transport suspects to Middlesbrough.

Cleveland Police has launched a consultation on plans to close the Custody Suite at Hartlepool Police Station and transport suspects to be questioned in Middlesbrough when they are arrested.

Chief Inspector Nigel Burnell, of Cleveland Police, said: “There are cultural issues, if people are not talking to us and reporting issues it makes problem solving some of the issues difficult.

“This is a way to try and get back in touch using the staff we’ve got now. We’ve got limited resources but officers are working really, really hard.

“The PCSOs will be engaging better with wards and looking at problem solving. Then they can report back and we can look at what tactics we can use and look at enforcement.

“Without public support it is really really difficult, we need community intelligence and support.”

Councillors and police also defended policing in Hartlepool following a BBC report into the lack of officers in Hartlepool and residents taking action into their own hands to patrol streets.

Chief Insp Burnell said: “The residents have done it with the best of intentions, they are just well meaning members of the public.

“It is not just the 10 PCSOs we’re looking at, there are 1,200ish officers, including response officers, CID and more serving the area.

“What the BBC reported was just one snapshot of one moment in time.

“There’s been instances we’ve had officers from the whole of Cleveland in Hartlepool because we’ve had big incidents.”

Coun Rob Cook said: “The police do a really great job and the impression being given is terrible and things are not exactly the way they are being portrayed.

“We need to get that message out there.”

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service