Scrutiny by my office and by the HMI has exposed a series of areas where the force has to do better. Earlier this year I appointed Richard Lewis as Chief Constable and have issued a clear Strategic Direction to him to tackle these areas and to deliver to the people of Cleveland a force they can be proud of. This can be found at https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/News-and-Events/News-Archive/2019/PCC-sets-strategic-direction-to-improve-policing-services.aspx
I am pleased that the HMI has expressed confidence in the Chief Constable and his team and confirmed that the problems are being treated seriously. That’s something the Mayor of Middlesbrough chose not to point out which is disappointing.
The Mayor is right to point out that the force has suffered severe cutbacks in recent years – resulting in the loss of 500 officers. I have campaigned against these cuts for some time now and I’m pleased to see leading figures across the political landscape from Boris Johnson to Jeremy Corbyn, now agreeing that those cutbacks must be reversed.
As my Strategic Direction makes clear, this is only half the story. Given appropriate resources the force must ensure that they are used as effectively and efficiently as possible and the Chief Constable is well aware of that.
I have met Mr Preston three times since he was elected and he is aware and, I believe, supportive of the innovative work my office and the force is carrying out in Middlesbrough, including pioneering initiatives to tackle drug addiction, knife crime and extremism.
I was therefore surprised that he chose to use the force as a political football in this way and do so on social media rather than discussing his concerns with me or raising them at the Police and Crime Panel last week where I reported extensively on progress with the Police and Crime Plan. If he wants to start a campaign about the PCC elections that is his prerogative, I shall be focussing on holding the Chief Constable to account in delivering the changes required to improve Cleveland Police and the service it delivers to the public.
Posted on Monday 8th July 2019