Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel, asking the government to address inequalities in their funding to tackle serious violence, which has seen Cleveland excluded from a share of £98m to address the issue.
It was announced last week that eighteen PCCs have been awarded another £35 million to set up Violence Reduction Units, as part of the government’s pledge to tackle serious violence across the country.
Cleveland is not one of these eighteen areas selected, despite having the fourth highest level of recorded violent crime per 1,000 population in the country.
Mr Coppinger’s letter criticises the government for solely basing their decision on the number of hospital admissions for ‘assault with a sharp object’ and not inviting police forces and PCCs to make a case for their own area and bid for funding.
This latest decision comes following eight years of systemic underfunding of policing as a result of austerity measures, costing Cleveland Police 500 Police Officers and 50 PCSOs since 2010.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “I am deeply concerned that Cleveland does not feature on the Home Office’s list of police force areas most affected by serious violence – despite being in the top ten highest levels of recorded violent incidents in the country.
“Using out-of-date hospital admission figures to identify problem areas and allocate resources provides a one-dimensional view of the extent of serious violence and does not take into consideration the evidenced surge in knife crime which has taken place over the last 12 months.
“The data also fails to take into account the number of hospital admissions per population, which has left Cleveland at a disadvantage as one of the smaller policing areas in the country.
“If the Government had looked at the issue proportionally, they would see that Middlesbrough has the same level of knife crime-related hospital admissions as Doncaster, a city with double the population and whose area is already a major recipient of funding.
“It’s imperative that the Government rethinks their decision to use hospital admission figures as a measure for serious violence, to ensure that areas like Cleveland have the resources they need to tackle an issue that has a lasting impact on victims and communities.”
Mr Coppinger has invited the Home Secretary to attend a Cleveland multi-agency serious violence conference in Hartlepool in October and to see first-hand the project work being undertaken locally.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner continues to invest in a number of initiatives to prevent serious violence, through range of early intervention and prevention work with young people across the area.
Following an investment from the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund, the PCC has doubled investment in youth outreach across Cleveland and has strengthened services to rehabilitate and divert young offenders and those at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
The nationally-renowned Knife Angel will be in Centre Square in Middlesbrough until Monday 2nd September and is being accompanied by a range of educational and outreach work with young people. Cleveland police now also has knife bins situated in the reception areas of its four main police stations, where knives and bladed weapons can be surrendered.
The PCC’s letter to the Home Secretary can be found at the following link: https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Document-Library/Letters/2019/Letters-from-PCC/Letter-to-Priti-Patel-regarding-the-lack-of-serious-violence-funding-allocated-to-Cleveland.pdf
Posted on Thursday 22nd August 2019