Police chief writes to MPs to call for 'fairer funding' for Cleveland force

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, has written to Cleveland's six MPs
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, has written to Cleveland's six MPs

A police chief has called on politicians to join a fight to secure 'fairer funding' for the force.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, has written to Cleveland's six MPs - including Hartlepool's Mike Hill - about the issue.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill is one of those who have been written to.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill is one of those who have been written to.

In the letter, he outlined how government funding to Cleveland Police has been cut by £39million - 36% - in real terms over the last seven years, resulting in the loss of 450 police officers and 50 PCSOs.

The force is now facing a further cut due to inflation and other rising costs, with the government indicating a standstill settlement for next year.

Cleveland Police would need to find up to £3million of savings if the situation remains unchanged, which is the equivalent of 60 police officer reductions every year.

Mr Coppinger said: "This is as serious a situation as I have faced in the five years since I was first elected Commissioner.

“In that time I have attended over 500 community meetings.

"The overwhelming message I receive is that the public are full of admiration for the excellent job of work police officers and staff do – they just wish there were more of them, and I totally agree.

“The force and partners have worked incredibly hard to deliver an effective service in extremely challenging times.

"It’s now time for the government to do its bit.

"With the Chief Constable, I will continue to lobby the Home Secretary and Prime Minister for fairer funding and I would urge MPs of all parties to do the same.”

Cleveland Police faces further pressure due to the area’s low council tax base, which means forces covering a similar population receive a far higher amount through the local precept.

Gwent, for example, has a population just 3.5% higher than Cleveland, yet receives 35% more money through the precept – about £16million a year.

The recent annual inspection of Efficiency and Leadership by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) graded Cleveland Police as 'good' in all areas.

Mr Coppinger said: “This is the second year running that the force has been judged as 'good' across all categories and is further, independent proof that the force has moved on from the regrettable issues of the past and is delivering a consistently good service to local people with the limited resources it has.

“The government continues to put all of this hard work at risk, and threatens the capacity of both myself, and therefore Cleveland Police, to deliver and fund the services the public of Cleveland need and deserve.

"The platform to continue to improve policing and community safety services in Cleveland is as strong as it has been for a considerable period of time, and if the government provide real term increases in funding then so much more could be achieved for those that are most in need of the vital public service that we deliver."