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PROACTIVE WORK: Public don’t see police work to tackle ‘hidden’ crimes

PROACTIVE WORK: Public don’t see police work to tackle ‘hidden’ crimes

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Steve Turner, with his acting chief executive Lisa Oldroyd, Image: Stuart Boulton

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner says the public don’t see much of the proactive work police do to tackle “hidden” crimes.

Steve Turner was quizzed about Cleveland Police becoming more of a “reactive than proactive” force over recent years as he outlined his police and crime plan for the next three years.

The Commissioner, who was elected in May, pledging to put more police on the streets and to put the pride back into the force, is required to produce the document, which sets out priorities for policing and reducing crime and disorder.

Conservative Mr Turner told a meeting of the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel – which draws together councillors from across the borough to scrutinise his decisions – that much of the force’s proactive policing was in areas that were “hidden” from the public, including domestic-related violence, child sexual exploition, cyber crime and modern slavery.

He said: “These are all crimes that thankfully the vast majority of people don’t see, however the sad reality is that is where our proactive policing is going right now.

“The days when the crime which happened in your street, burglaries and inquisitive crime, that is a much smaller proportion of overall crime in 2021.

“We do need more visibility on the streets to give the public confidence that police are out there doing their job, but the job of the police is different and has to be looked at in other ways.”

Mr Turner’s police and crime plan, which is currently in draft form, but is expected to be signed off later this month, has ten priorities in it which are

  • More police on the streets;
  • Effective support for victims and witnesses of crime;
  • Bringing offenders to justice;
  • Getting tough on drugs and gangs;
  • Tackling anti-social behaviour head on;
  • Preventing, tackling and reducing serious violence;
  • Using technology to combat crime;
  • Building confidence in Cleveland’s communities;
  • Tackling violence against women and girls;
  • Ensuring an effective policing and criminal justice system.

The plan pledges to  continue to lobby the Government for cash to create a serious violence reduction unit, create and deliver a ‘domestic abuse perpetrator strategy’ and support tougher sentences for people who assault emergency workers.

The use of stop and search powers is intended to increase, while “ensuring fairness and proportionality” and there will be work with partners to ensure a “holistic approach” to tackling drugs across the area.

A focus within the plan is the use of technology to manage offenders, including the use of GPS and ‘sobriety tags’ to track offenders and the planned introduction of a mobile, crime reporting app.

The plan states the Commissioner’s wish to maximise the use of drone capability to tackle and disrupt crime and references an exploratory bid to pay for a trial of facial recognition software, which has been used by several police forces in England and Wales in collaboration with the private sector.

It utilises technology to match faces captured on near real-time video images  against a watchlist of individuals provided by the police.

Mr Turner also wants to treble the number of special constables available to Cleveland Police and has sought support from local councils to consider a council tax reduction for specials.

However this was recently rejected by Stockton Council amid concerns that a message would be sent to other non-policing volunteers that some volunteers were more valued than others.

Mr Turner said there were “no surprises” in his police and crime plan and a consultation carried out with the public over the summer, part of the process required in developing the document, gave him “absolute faith that what we have put together is fit for purpose.”

He said: “As wide a variety of views were sought as possible.

“We went out into communities with the consultation, carried out focus groups, we had roadshows at the Middlesbrough Mela [festival] and other festivals, and were at market stalls.

“We have done more consultation than other OPCCs [Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner].”

Members of the police and crime panel criticised a previous consultation last year over the proposed level of the police precept in Cleveland – the portion of council tax that helps pay towards policing.

Because of the covid-19 pandemic the consultation was online only, in the form of a survey, and only received 181 responses from the public.

Mr Turner said: “You rarely get the quality information you need with an online survey alone.”


Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter

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