Cleveland Police "improving but still has work to do" more than a year on from damning report

  • Video report by ITV News Tyne Tees correspondent Amy Lea


Cleveland Police has made "notable improvements" in its protection of vulnerable people, according to the police watchdog.

The force was branded "clueless" in a damning report published in 2019, becoming the first in England and Wales to be rated failing in all areas.

The latest inspection, carried out in November, found Cleveland Police is providing a better service to victims of domestic abuse, but "stills needs to improve how it records violent crime, particularly those crimes that relate to domestic abuse."

However, "just over half" of the force's investigations were found to be of a good overall standard, similar to the findings in 2019.

81% of vulnerable victims and 64% of repeat victims are now being correctly identified, according to her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The watchdog also called on Cleveland Police, which covers Hartlepool, Redcar, Cleveland, Stockton and Middlesbrough, to make sure children are not unnecessarily held in custody overnight because of delays in finding suitable representation.


  • Chief constable Richard Lewis said his force had reached "the first checkpoint on the marathon that is our improvement journey, and we are at a steady pace."


HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said she was "confident" that the force would "continue to drive progress".

“Vulnerable children and victims of domestic abuse deserve fast, effective and high-quality help from their local police force", she said.

“Over the last few years, we have reported serious concerns about the service Cleveland Police provides to vulnerable people – that's why we carried out this inspection to understand how the force has responded to these concerns.

“I am pleased that the force is starting to show progress in tackling these issues, and it has made significant improvements in some areas.

"However, there has been limited improvement in other areas – particularly in how the force protects children, and how it records violent crimes such as domestic abuse.

The force still has work to do to respond to the areas of concern we have identified in the past. We will continue to monitor Cleveland Police on its progress, and I am confident that the commitment shown by the force’s leadership, police officers and staff will continue to drive progress in these areas.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams

Three reports published between 2017 and 2019 raised serious concerns about the force's capacity to keep people safe and reduce crime.

In September 2019, inspectors described Cleveland Police as "rudderless and clueless", rating it inadequate in three key areas, effectively placing the force into special measures.

This followed years of scandals and a string of chief constables.

In 2012, former chief constable Sean Price was sacked for gross misconduct and seven officers were under investigation after journalists' phones were unlawfully monitored.

Credit: PA Images

Chief constable Richard Lewis, who joined the force five months before the 2019 report was published, said Cleveland Police was committed to making "real, lasting changes."

“I have a solid plan and have set a clear direction on the work that we still need to do.

"We have reached the first checkpoint on the marathon that is our improvement journey, and we are at a steady pace.

Change takes time. This isn’t about ticking boxes. We’re not trying to make surface level improvements, we’re making real, lasting changes that reset how we think and operate.

“Covid-19 has impacted us all, and our workforce dealt with this inspection during the turbulent months of 2020.

Like each organisation, the pandemic has impacted upon plans that we had, but we are adjusting to new ways of working and are still on the right track.

I know that we now have an opportunity to rebuild an organisation and service that is better and stronger, and I’m confident we have the right people to get us across the finish line.”

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