Police ‘stretched to the limit’ – MP demands more officers after 23% rise in crime in Hartlepool

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill says police are being “stretched to the limit” because of Government underfunding after crime increased by 23% at the end of last year.

Mr Hill says more bobbies on the beat are needed after burglary and vehicle crime both doubled during October to December compared to the same period in 2016.

Overall, there were an extra 510 crimes recorded in Hartlepool between October and December of last year at 2,224.

That represented a year on year increase of 23%.

Mr Hill said: “I have recently met with representatives from the Cleveland Police Federation who informed me that officers are being stretched to the limit because of underfunding, and there are simply not enough PCSO’s or bobbies on the beat.

“Government cuts to police funding have already resulted in the loss of over 500 officers in Cleveland over the last seven years and the Police Grant for 2018/19, which ironically we are debating in the Commons this week, will lead to further real term cuts.

Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson.

Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson.

“Given this and the increasing diverse pressures on our over-stretched police service, such as the need to tackle cyber crime and human trafficking, I am not surprised that crime figures are up in the town.”

Domestic burglary and vehicle crime saw the biggest year on year increases.

Domestic burglary was up 101% from 142 in October to December 2016, to 286 a year later.

Vehicle crime also rose 101% from 190 in the third quarter of 2016 to 381 in 2017.

Mr Hill added: “Our communities deserve to feel safe, we need to see more boots on the ground and a more visible police presence.

“It’s not too much to ask for and we can begin to reverse this trend if we get the proper resources, which is why myself and other MPs from the area are lobbying the Home Secretary to wake up and smell the coffee and look to make improvements in police funding.”

The number of people entering the criminal justice system for the first time was down for the quarter.

So was offences committed by prolific and priority offenders. Hate crimes saw a reduction of almost 20% for the period.

They will also be presented to Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit & Governance Committee for scrutiny on Wednesday.

Chief Inspector Nigel Burnell, of Cleveland Police, said: “Nationally, police forces are seeing increases in crime.

“Cleveland Police has supported the introduction of more robust recording standards, and operates an intelligence-led model which prioritises according to threat, risk and harm and protecting the most vulnerable people in our society.

“We have seen increases in burglary and motor vehicle crime, when comparing crimes recorded for the three months at the end of 2017 to the same three months the previous year.

“We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to strive to reduce crime across the town and we would urge anyone who has been a victim of crime or anyone with information regarding crime in their local area to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers.”

Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555111.

People are being urged to protect themselves against opportunist thieves

Safer Hartlepool Partnership heard that around half of the burglaries (120) were for shed, garages and outbuildings rather than homes being left insecure.

Approximately two thirds of vehicle crimes were thefts from vehicles, often at night.

Members of the partnership said it was important they promote crime prevention information to the public to help them falling victim to crime.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, chair of the partnership and leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It’s about getting that message out that it’s opportunists and what people in Hartlepool can do to prevent that from happening that may have an impact.”

Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson said it should be explored what impact Universal Credit is having on acquisitive crime such as shoplifting and theft from vehicles.

He added tackling rises in crime was a collective effort of police and partner agencies.

Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, said crime prevention was more important given cuts to police resources.

He said: “We are all working in an environment where resources are being squeezed at the same time demand is going up.

“I think the key point is we do what we can in terms of crime prevention. We should encourage people to access that advice.”

The crime figures are also due to be go before the council’s Audit & Governance Committee for scrutiny on Wednesday.