Fully costed plans for a specialist unit to reduce levels of violent crime across Cleveland were presented by the Police and Crime Commissioner to the Policing Minister this morning [Tuesday 23 June].
In an open and honest conversation, PCC Barry Coppinger highlighted Cleveland’s urgent need for additional investment from central government on a call with Policing and Fire Minister Kit Malthouse.
Despite having the third highest violent crime rate in the country, Cleveland has repeatedly missed out on funding to tackle the issue, due to the government’s reliance on hospital admission figures for injuries caused by sharp objects – rather than crime data.
Research conducted by the Commissioner’s Office has found that when this hospital data is calculated per 100,000 population, Cleveland appears fifth highest – sitting alongside police force areas which did receive funding for violence reduction units (VRUs).
The PCC’s team also found that in the 12 months leading up to March 2020, the cost of murder and serious violence on Cleveland’s criminal justice system reached £23.3m. When considering costs to the public in anticipation of crime and money spent as a consequence of crime, this figure rises £116.2m.
In comparison, with a government grant of just £1.2m, Mr Coppinger’s proposal would see the establishment of a multiagency team to lead on this work, plus the development of specialist interventions to prevent serious violence at the earliest possible stage.
The Minister was presented with the Commissioner’s research. He said the government remained committed to using hospital data, but agreed to discuss the issue further, offering the PCC support in working together to address it.
Mr Coppinger said: “Violent crime is not something residents in Cleveland should just have to live with and today I was able to have an honest conversation with the Minister about the impact serious violence is having on communities in Cleveland.
“Using previous government grants, we’ve made a solid start in turning the tide on serious violence in Cleveland, but this funding stream expired at the end of March and we have not received any further investment to replace it.
“My proposals would allow us – like 18 other areas in the country – to establish a specialist team to lead a public-health approach to tackling serious violence. We only have a real chance at disrupting this worrying trend when agencies work together and maximise opportunities to turn people away from crime.
“I look forward to working closely with the Minister and his Home Office colleagues in the near future to ensure that Cleveland is able to access any future funding to reduce serious and violent crime in Cleveland.”
The PCC has previously written to the Home Secretary on two occasions to highlight the issue and held an emergency Serious Violence Summit in Hartlepool in February.
A redacted version of the document presented to the Minister can be found here. It includes research conducted by the OPCC.
Mr Coppinger’s letter to Mr Malthouse and previous letters to the Home Secretary can be found here.
Posted on Tuesday 23rd June 2020