In response to media calls regarding the call by a Tees Valley Mayoral candidate for Cleveland Police to be scrapped, Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said:
“For me this is not a party political issue, my record shows that I campaigned against merger when it was proposed by a Labour Government.
“It is about what is best for the people of Cleveland and, whilst I am Commissioner, command and control of local policing will remain within the force area and under the direction of the Chief Constable accountable, through me, to the public.
“In practical terms, merging the force would mean the end of neighbourhood policing and the bobby on the beat. Policing the towns and villages of Cleveland would fall under the control of an HQ probably based on Tyneside with a completely different set of policing priorities.
“From the hundreds of community meetings I have attended in my time as Commissioner I know the public would never support that, they are overwhelmingly supportive of the officers who patrol the streets and the excellent and dedicated job of work that they do.
“In addition, the cost of merger would be enormous, millions of pounds would have to be diverted from frontline policing to fund it.
“Neither myself nor the Chief Constable will shy away from taking robust action to ensure lessons are learned and the historical mistakes of the past are not repeated.
“We have invested heavily in a series of ongoing measures to tackle issues that have raised concern. This includes the commissioning of independent analysis of past mistakes and, where necessary, looking outside of police circles for future answers.
“Central to the changes we have already announced is the replacement of the professional standards department with a bespoke body that can become a national lead in the future.
“I recognise the seriousness of the mistakes that were made in the past but to scrap an entire police force because of the actions of a tiny number of officers makes no sense.
“I am in regular contact with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary who is supportive of the steps we have taken and whose recent reports recognise Cleveland as an improving force. To scrap the work already underway and start again would be foolish, a shameful waste of public money and betrayal of the rank and file officers who serve the badge of Cleveland Police with integrity and pride.”
The new Tees Valley Mayor will not have any power over policing in Cleveland. That responsibility will continue to lie with the elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
Posted on Tuesday 7th February 2017