Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has made another impassioned plea to government to help police tackle levels of serious violence in Cleveland.
Figures released by the Ministry of Justice this week revealed that Cleveland dealt with more knife and weapon offences, per head of population, than any other police force area in the country in the year to September 2019.
Mr Coppinger has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel on two occasions, highlighting the lack of financial support from the Home Office, after Cleveland missed out on funds from a £100m investment to establish violence reduction units and reduce crime across the country.
The calculations for this funding were based on hospital admissions for knife related injuries – rather than taking into account that Cleveland has the third highest levels of violent crime in the country.
Mr Coppinger said: “It’s outrageous that Cleveland continues to be passed over for funding to tackle serious violence. The funding calculations are fundamentally flawed and do not take account of the high levels of violent incidents police deal with.
“The news this week that Cleveland Police deals with more knife and weapon crimes than any other force is another damning statistic which proves that the Home Office needs to reconsider how it hands out funding.
“Despite repeated correspondence to the Home Office, I am yet to receive a response. The police are doing their best to respond to violent crimes, but Cleveland needs its own Violence Reduction Unit and specialist initiatives to stop crimes occurring in the first place.”
The PCC – in partnership with Hartlepool Council - is hosting an emergency summit this week to bring senior leaders together to consider solutions to the problem.
He continued: “I have invited senior officials from across Cleveland – and from the Home Office - to come together for a summit to discuss how we can work together to reduce violent crime.
“The Government themselves have asked us to develop a public health approach to violence which needs all agencies to play their part in making a difference. I’m hopeful we’ll come away with the makings of a fresh strategy to cut crime and prevent anyone else losing their lives to violent crime.”
The summit is being held on Friday 14th February at Hartlepool College of Further Education and follows a Youth Conference in Redcar at the weekend, hosted by the Chris Cave Foundation and attended by Mr Coppinger and over 100 young people.
Mr Coppinger and his team have implemented a range of violence prevention initiatives funded by a successful bid to the Early Intervention Youth Fund, including doubling funding for youth outreach, investing in specialist support for young offenders and training professionals in spotting the signs of childhood vulnerability. Funding for this work runs out on 31 March.
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Posted on Monday 10th February 2020