A senior police officer set out changes to neighbourhood policing in Hartlepool due to pressure on demand.
The town has lost one inspector, one sergeant and 10 PCs under Cleveland Police’s restructure which came into effect last week.
We have reshaped and restructured to deliver the best service we can under the circumstancesChief Inspector Lynn Beeston
Chief Inspector Lynn Beeston, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing, said resources had been redirected to higher risk issues which are on the increase such as child sexual exploitation.
Chf Insp Beeston said resources for neighbourhood issues, such as anti-social behaviour, would be directed to wards where they have been identified as having the greatest need, operating on a red, amber and green system.
But she stressed police would still respond to ongoing emergencies.
Chf Insp Beeston explained the changes to Neighbourhood Forum meetings of Hartlepool Borough Council.
She said: “Like all public sector organisations we have suffered massive cuts over the years in the Government’s austerity programme.
“We have had to look differently at how we police.”
Compared to 2010, the force now has 400 fewer officers, a reduction of about a quarter.
“We have got greater demand and less officers,” said Chf Insp Beeston.
She said the increase in demand was largely due to ‘hidden’ issues such as domestic abuse, online grooming and vulnerable people.
A number of officers who previously worked on neighbourhood policing have been transferred to a unit dealing with these issues.
Chf Insp Beeston added: “It is not particularly what people want to hear or we want to do but it is reality.
“We have reshaped and restructured to deliver the best service we can under the circumstances.”
She said there had been similar cuts to neighbourhood policing in other areas of Cleveland as in Hartlepool.
As part of the changes, officers are working later shifts to tackle anti-social behaviour when it happens.
A member of the public at the meeting highlighted ongoing problems around gangs of youths congregating in the King Oswy Drive area.
Chf Insp Beeston said it was important people reported problems so police were aware of them.
More reports of crimes, such as vehicle damage, will now be taken over the phone instead of an officer attending.
Cleveland Police sharing more resources with neighbouring forces including with North Yorkshire on major crimes.