PCSO numbers in Hartlepool to be almost halved as a result of a policing shake-up

Darlington and Stockton Times: Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger unveils new look police teams Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger unveils new look police teams

A SHAKE-up of policing resources will see almost half of the Police Community Support Officer posts scrapped for a North-East town.

The reduction of PCSOs in Hartlepool from 41 to 24 comes as Cleveland Police is forced to make cuts to its workforce as it struggles to cope with the reduction of government funding.

The piloted-revamp, which will eventually take effect across the entire force, will see the remaining PCSOs working alongside police constables and plain-clothes CID detectives in one “super-hub” office.

Despite losing 17 PCSOs, the reshuffle will see the town left with a total of four fewer officers than the current Neighbourhood Policing scheme, which saw a combined 68 police constables and PCSOs working from neighbourhood offices, and CID in a separate office within Hartlepool Police Station.

Numbers in the three other force areas will see an increase in officer numbers – Middlesbrough from 103 to 127; Redcar and Cleveland from 73 to 82; and Stockton from 92 to 109.

The plans were unveiled publically for the first time when police chiefs, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Spittal, Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang, and Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, attended a special meeting in Hartlepool.

Ch Supt Lang said "We are piloting an integrated team which is something completely different and new. The way we are going about that is we are bringing detectives, PCSOs and neighbourhood officers into one office. It will be a group of people focused on one thing, tackling neighbourhood crime in Hartlepool.”

The break-down was calculated by looking at crime figures, neighbourhood related crime, anti-social behaviour and social factors.

DCC Ian Spittal added: “We are given a budget and it’s our job to apportion that budget. We treat every district fairly and provide officers based on risk and factors such as anti-social behaviour and crime levels.

“If that changes then we are flexible enough to move resources around. It's not what we would choose but we have to balance the budgets. We are, however, committed to keeping the community safe."

Mr Coppinger said: "We're going to minimise what investment we have in buildings, and maximise investment in officers. We will make sure that the resources we do have will be deployed where we can get the most impact."

The force will be meeting with the three other local authorities in the Cleveland area over the coming weeks to explain the proposed changes.

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