Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has taken up issues on behalf of the public with Cleveland Police about their response to Covid-19.
Despite government guidance to socially distance, Mr Coppinger was still able to maintain his usual scrutiny meeting with Chief Constable Richard Lewis and his team on Monday via telephone conference.
He sought assurance from senior officers about how the Force were responding to the Covid-19 crisis and put questions submitted by the public directly to the Chief Constable.
The Commissioner receives twice daily briefings from the Force, including a daily call with the Chief Constable and a weekly accountability meeting in which he raises any concerns from the public or partners.
He also joins PCC colleagues in a weekly call with Policing Minister Kit Malthouse and this week held an emergency meeting of the Cleveland and Durham Local Criminal Justice Partnership, with representatives from police, probation, prisons, the courts and other criminal justice agencies.
Mr Coppinger said: “My Office has utilised the technology available to us to maintain our scrutiny and accountability processes as normal, so the public can have confidence that the right thing is being done during the crisis. We are working on using this technology to bring the next meeting to the public.
“The meeting was an opportunity to put over 20 questions submitted by the public directly to Richard Lewis and his senior team. Topics ranged from police powers, travel for exercise, social distancing and queries about MOT tests.
“The Chief Constable has assured me that Cleveland Police will continue to use the ‘engage, explain, educate and enforce’ approach to uphold the government’s social distancing rules, but officers reserve the right to move quickly to enforcement if there are grounds for doing so.
“The majority of people living in the Cleveland area are following the government’s advice and I thank them wholeheartedly for their effort – they are playing an active role in protecting others and supporting the NHS.
“For individuals who flout the rules, I will be continually seeking assurance directly from the Chief Constable athat the police deal with them reasonably and proportionately.
“While PPE shortages have been reported by other organisations in the area, the Force has informed me that they’ve had no shortages and a further delivery of equipment is expected this week.
“PPE supply is an issue I have raised on two occasions with the Policing Minister and I’m pleased to hear that Cleveland’s frontline officers and staff have the protection they need. My team will continue to liaise with partners in the health and care sector to ensure that they too have access to lifesaving PPE supplies.
“Senior leaders of the Force have informed me that they are currently able to manage operational demand, with a focus on community hotspots when needed. They have implemented measures to ensure the Control Room can continue to deliver their vital service, whilst ensuring staff are protected by social distancing.
“Service improvement does not stop during the coronavirus crisis. The Chief Constable has a team dedicated to driving forward his Towards 2025 vision and will regularly report progress on this work to me and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
“As always, the partnership working in Cleveland has been second-to-none and I’m impressed by the way health, local government, police, fire, the military and the voluntary sector have pulled together during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.
“An example is the virtual meeting I hosted with our local criminal justice partnership this week, to discuss how probation, prisons, the courts and other agencies will cope during Covid-19. Together we will monitor developments in early prison releases, court operations and other issues during coronavirus.
“In a crisis, we are stronger together. As always, I’m encouraged by the spirit of Cleveland’s communities and I know that people and organisations across the area are going above and beyond to help tackle this virus and protect our communities.”
Members of the public can submit questions for the Chief Constable and the Policing Minister via email, telephone, social media or online here: https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Take-Part/Put-your-questions-to-Cleveland-Police.aspx
A full list of public Q&As can be found here.
Posted on Wednesday 8th April 2020