A POLICE force has announced plans to put more than 120 officers back into local communities – almost a year after effectively scrapping community policing.
Cleveland Police says it wants to have 240 neighbourhood police officers in place by the summer, including 24 'Bobbies on the beat', who will be starting this month.
Chief Constable Richard Lewis has pledged to boost the number of officers in neighbourhood policing over the coming months, following a major consultation on how the service should be provided.
It follows a decision by interim chief constable Lee Freeman last March, who took officers off the beat and put them into response teams instead.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: "I recruited Richard as it was clear he shared my passion to revitalise and strengthen neighbourhood policing in Cleveland.
"He has impressed leaders across the area and there is a shared confidence that he is the right person to embed a new policing model.
“When I engage with communities across Cleveland they often share a common concern – that they value the work of our brave and hardworking police officers, but wish there were more of them on our streets.
“I helped introduce neighbourhood policing to Cleveland and it has been an objective of my plan since day one, which is why it formed a central part of the strategic requirement I set for Richard last year in developing a long-term improvement plan for the force.
“Supported by an increased investment, 2020 is going to mark a turning point for Cleveland Police, as Richard continues to make a number of significant changes to the way the force polices Cleveland and safeguards the vulnerable.
“However, we must acknowledge that additional police officers is only part of the solution. I expect rapid improvement to the entire organisation and will be closely monitoring progress as part of my scrutiny process to ensure the resources the force has are used efficiently and effectively to protect the people who live, work and visit here.”
Last year Cleveland Police was rated as inadequate in all areas in a damning report by HMIC.
In June, Mr Coppinger issued a strategic direction calling for Mr Lewis to review and remodel how neighbourhood policing in Cleveland is delivered, to ensure communities get the dedicated resources they need.
The movement of officers to neighbourhood roles is being implemented in a number of phases to ensure the force remains stable during this period and work in areas outside of neighbourhood policing is not adversely impacted.
Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Neighbourhood policing, Bobbies on the beat, is the cornerstone of British policing. The importance of having a visible, accessible and engaging teams of officers and staff, is vital in building successful relationships and keeping communities safe.
“We are putting police officers and PCSOs into every part of Cleveland and every local policing ward will have its own identified policing resource.
“We will remain intelligence led, analytical and sophisticated in the deployment of our resources. We will target the most serious and prolific offenders actively engaged in criminal activities through our community teams but we will also do all that we are able to divert the young and vulnerable people away from a life of crime.
"Prevention, problem solving and engagement will be critical objectives of our neighbourhood policing model; protecting at all times the vulnerable within our communities.
“The impact of this decision will affect staff from across the force in a positive manner, providing them with resilience, support and long term solutions for problems currently causing high demand.
“I want our communities to flourish and this reinvestment in neighbourhood policing is just one of many initiatives that we are focussing on to ensure that this happens.
"We have made a number of commitments to those residing, working and investing in Cleveland and will continue to strive to be a force for good and for all as we move towards a modern, effective neighbourhood policing model.”
A consultation on people's key priorities was held at the end of last year to find out where people living in the area would like to see resources put.
The decision to pull officers on to response was made ahead of the force's inspection in May, after a reported 30 incidents were not responded to quickly enough in one weekend because of a lack of police numbers.