Still waiting Minister: MP Mike Hill’s anger after Home Secretary fails to respond to call over policing in Hartlepool

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has hit out at the Home Secretary Sajid Javid after he failed to respond to a call for a meeting more than two months ago about policing in Hartlepool

The town MP told Parliament this week that residents have been left in fear by alarming cuts to the town’s police cover.

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP. Picture: PA.

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP. Picture: PA.

He told the House of Commons that he has not yet had a reply to a letter sent to Home Secretary Sajid Javid in November asking for a meeting about funding following a shocking BBC report titled ‘Hartlepool: The town where police don’t come out’.

He told the Mail: “I am bitterly disappointed that the letter was not responded to in a timely manner, because it gave the opportunity to consider all the facts.

“Instead it appears he chose to ignore what MPs on Teesside had to say and award Cleveland Police the lowest grant settlement in the country.”

After he hasn’t received a reply more than two months on, Mr Hill has sent a further letter, in which he wrote: “As yet we have not received a response from yourself or the Home Office, which is of concern given the nature of the letter and the fact that it was sent two months ago.

Mike Hill, MP, with Hartlepool Chief Inspector Nigel Burrell and PCC Barry Coppinger.

Mike Hill, MP, with Hartlepool Chief Inspector Nigel Burrell and PCC Barry Coppinger.

“This was raised in the House by myself and the Hon Member for Stockton North during the debate on The Police Grant Report held on Tuesday 5th February.

“In light of the fact that the grant settlement for Cleveland Police is the lowest in the country for an area with the 4th highest recorded crime rate I would urge you to give our letter your urgent attention.”

Mr Hill said revelations that the town has just 10 police officers for its 96,000 population has been seen as ‘an open advert to criminals’ and called upon the Government for urgent improvements to the way the police are funded.

The MP said a national news report highlighting Hartlepool’s low police cover had ‘struck fear into communities’ and described the mothballing of Hartlepool’s custody suite, which means officers have to take suspects on a 30-mile round trip to Middlesbrough, as ‘ludicrous’.

Cleveland's Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

Cleveland's Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

He spoke out in the House of Commons this week as the Government’s police grants for forces were approved by Parliament.

Mr Hill said: “The film exposed the severity of Government cuts to policing and struck fear into our communities.

“It was seen as an open advert to criminals and has left citizens feeling under threat.

“The awareness of a lack of visible policing has led to increased reports from constituents of their concerns, including a noticeable trend in failure to attend reported crimes, despite the fact that Cleveland police records 163 crimes a day on average.”

He said the force had adapted to modern demands such as cyber crime but Cleveland Police themselves admit the service they provide to the public is ‘nowhere near where it needs to be’.

Mr Hill added: “In order to help Cleveland Police keep the streets of Hartlepool safe, the Government need to make urgent improvements to the funding formula, and not just allow for increases in police precepts, which both penalise local taxpayers and push the perception of blame on to local forces.

“The current situation is simply not good enough and our hardworking officers and PCSOs deserve better.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said he welcomed Mr Hill’s support for a better funding.

Mr Coppinger said: “It cannot be right that an area like ours, which has the fourth highest levels of crime per 1,000 population in the country, is awarded the lowest government grant.

“The funding formula is fundamentally flawed and it is deeply unfair that residents in Cleveland are asked to pick up the bill.

“People in Hartlepool can be assured that I will continue to keep fighting for the funding the Force needs.”

The Home Office said the letter from Mr Hill was replied to on December 13.

It added the new funding settlement recognises the demands on the police and say it will enable forces to meet financial pressures, while also recruiting more officers and being better placed to respond to the increasingly complex crimes they face.

A spokesman said: “Parliament has approved a significant settlement that includes the biggest increase in police funding since 2010, with more money for local police forces, counter terrorism and tackling serious and organised crime.

“We are providing total funding of up to £14 billion, an increase of up to £970 million, including money raised through council tax, compared to 2018-19.

“Cleveland Police will receive an extra £7.2million for 2019-20 if the Police and Crime Commissioner decides to increase the council precept by £2 per month for a typical household.”