Yesterday I met Chief Constable Mike Veale and Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger. I asked them a series of questions about progress with the Chief's plan to reform the force to ensure maximum numbers of officers are out fighting crime.
- Trials of new laptops and mobiles are ongoing and procurement has now started, to be fully rolled out in April. This will save officers from constantly returning to the station throughout their shifts.
- The number of Special Constables, who have full powers of arrest, has doubled and is ongoing. The Chief plans to recruit other volunteers in different roles, for example computer specialists and Rural Crime Watch.
- The Force Structure is being simplified, with a focus on more officers on the beat. Chief Superintendants have been phased out and similar changes are now being made to Chief Inspectors.
- If approved, a new operating model for the whole force will be unveiled in the middle of this month, of which more details will be made public shortly. This would have the specific aim of allowing more proactive policing (for example, against known offenders).
We also discussed funding. I support the PCC's application to increase the Police precept on council tax - and received a firm commitment the additional almost £2 million this would raise will indeed be invested in visible front-line policing.
I also emphasised that I want to see more money for Cleveland Police. I met the Home Secretary about this in the autumn and will continue to argue the case for a fairer funding settlement, including changes to the police funding formula.
Delivering a safer Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland is my priority, and I will keep having these briefings at regular intervals.