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Cleveland PCC human trafficking warning

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, is warning people not to assume that trafficking does not happen on Teesside. It follows a Human Trafficking and Slavery Conference.

Representatives from the National Crime Agency, national charity Hope for Justice, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and young people from Barnardos, all spoke about how human trafficking and slavery is hidden in communities. They said that trafficking can take many forms, including forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, or for criminal means.

Cleveland Police has made three referrals to the UK Human Trafficking Centre this year after officers had identified two people who had been trafficked as cannabis farmers to run farms and a possible case of domestic servitude.

“It’s hidden from communities, but we are working to bring it to the forefront and I want people living across Cleveland to help us. It could be that people are being trafficked for criminal means, or for forced labour in homes in the area. Anyone with concerns about something they see or hear should contact police."

– Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger


Man jailed for stealing Crime Commissioner's phone

A man has been jailed for stealing a mobile phone from one of the region's most important police bosses.

Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, was in a café in Middlesbrough before a meeting about retail crime when his mobile phone was taken out of his pocket.

He reported the theft to police, and an investigation began which included looking at the café’s CCTV footage.

A still was taken from the footage and placed on the Cleveland Police daily briefing pages, where a police officer recognised the man and arrested him. He was then charged with the theft.

The 32-year-old from London pleaded guilty to theft at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Friday and was sentenced to eight weeks in prison.

“Thanks to the good security in the café and quick thinking of the officer concerned, this man has been brought to justice swiftly.

“Clearly it’s not the type of thing you expect to happen, but I would urge other people to make sure you keep valuables in a safe place if you are carrying them round with you.”

– Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner

Police "must apologise when wrong"

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Police has admitted it must apologise when mistakes are made.

Barry Coppinger was speaking after the Northern Echo published details of a 139-page Independent Police Complaints Commission report into events at the force.

The inquiry followed an investigation which saw Cleveland Police pay out £550,000 in compensation to lawyer James Watson for wrongful arrest.

Since details of Mr Watson's wrongful arrest pay-out emerged there has been criticism of a senior detective who he said had launched a vendetta against him.

That officer has retired, having reached 30 years service. Mr Watson said he should have been suspended.

Mr Coppinger said the force's insurance would be used to cover the cost of the settlement, and he said lessons had been learned.

"Sometimes mistakes are made, and it is up to us to apologise when we get it wrong."

"What we need to focus on is continuing to reduce crime, protect the public and serve our communities. I know through my feedback from community meetings that members of the public are supportive of their local police, and I hope that this continues."

"The decision not to suspend was taken in accordance with the policy and practices of the Force and based solely upon the information and evidence presented by the investigation team.

"Police officers' pensions can only be removed if they are convicted of a criminal offence in a court, and this is set down in legislation.

"It is a decision for the Crown Prosecution Service whether to prosecute and in this case they decided not to take the matter to court. There is no opportunity to affect police officers' pensions following misconduct."

– Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner

PCC confirms a move from Police HQ still being considered

At the launch of the new Police and Crime Plan for Cleveland, the PCC admitted the force faces challenging times with cuts to the budget and said he believed moving from the current headquarters to a cheaper alternative will go towards those savings.

Ladgate Lane Credit: ITV News

In the year 2015-2016, savings of almost £5m have to be found.

Barry Coppinger is keen to move from the force's current HQ on Ladgate Lane in Middlesbrough as it is too expensive to run. The land would be sold for development.

Mr Coppinger said he is awaiting the findings of a report, due to be handed to him in the next few weeks, before making a final decision.

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