Hartlepool MP says 'more needs to be done to make our streets feel safe again' after Cleveland Police's inadequate inspection

Hartlepool’s MP has praised recent police work targeting drugs in the town but says more needs to be done after the force was rated inadequate.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 4:45 pm
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

Mike Hill commented on the issues within Cleveland Police which last week became the first force in the country to be found inadequate in all key areas by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Mr Hill says he has confidence in Chief Constable Richard Lewis who was appointed in April 2019 and deserves a chance to make improvements.

He also backed under-fire Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, who has announced he will not stand for re-election next year, saying he inherited a number of historic problems that continue today.

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Richard Lewis

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Mr Hill said: “His commitment to shaping a force that is fit for purpose has been commendable given the mess he inherited and some of the issues with senior officers which were beyond his control.

“The new Chief Constable Richard Lewis does deserve a chance to effect the changes he wants to make and restore the reputation of a force that was once applauded as a pathfinder.

“For myself I am confident of the ambitious nature Richard Lewis has adopted since taking office as chief constable, and we have seen the effects of his new leadership in Hartlepool with the crackdown on drug houses in particular, but that is not enough.”

Following revelations last winter about Hartlepool having only 10 officers on duty on a Saturday night, with all at one point being tied up, and the mothballing of the town police station’s custody suite, Mr Hill says improvements need to start here.

He added: “My message to the outgoing commissioner and new chief constable is that some fantastic work is happening here in Hartlepool, particularly around crime prevention and early intervention, but the response to the BBC expose needed to be harder and stronger.”

Mr Hill says the decision to mothball the custody suite should have been reversed.

He acknowledged the loss of over 500 officers since 2010 due to government cuts and believes the force will continue to struggle despite Cleveland’s new recruitment drive for more than 100 officers.

“It’s fantastic to see proactive and hard tackling of drug houses, but more needs to be done to make our streets feel safe again,” said Mr Hill.