Middlesbrough shopkeeper confronts police minister and PCC over 'break-ins'

Parvez Akhtar challenges Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Police, Steve Turner, and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, on what's being done to tackle crime in Middlesbrough

Gregg Easteal

This was an arresting sight as the government's Policing Minister went on a walkabout in Middlesbrough on Monday.

In just two minutes shopkeeper Parvez Akhtar gave Kit Malthouse what is perhaps best described as a short, sharp, shocking lesson on the realities of trying to run a business in an area that's now second highest in the country for levels of violent offences and fourth for knife crime.

The Minister, who was joined by Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner, told him more money is already being spent on extra police and increased security and has hinted even more may be on the way.

But Mr Akhtar said he's threatened every day and will keep on rolling out huge rolls of razor wire around his shop each night to try and keep it safe.

Teesside is missing out on “vital cash” to tackle serious crime despite being ranked second in the country for violent offences and fourth for knife crime.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Police, Steve Turner, is appealing for more investment from the Government to help fund a specialist Violence Reduction Unitto address the issue.

Mr Turner, who stepped into the role last month, said it was at the top of his agenda and on Monday played host to a visit from Policing Minister Kit Malthouse.

He said: “Too often we are seeing families losing loved ones, children threatened into organised criminal gangs, and communities tarnished by knives and weapons on our streets.

"We all now have a responsibility to protect future generations and I am asking the Policing Minister to look at the funding formula for Violence Reduction Units.

“Based upon the statistics I have, and the evidence I've gathered during my first few weeks in office, we need and should be getting this investment - I think people would be shockedabout what the police are actually dealing with.”

During Mr Malthouse’s visit the pair went on a walkabout with neighbourhood officers and new recruits and visited the vulnerability suite in the Force Control Room.

Assistant Chief Constable for Cleveland Police, Lisa Theaker, said: "We've seen what other areas of the UK have been able to achieve by having funded Violence Reduction Units and we have the right skills and partnerships working on Teesside to make a huge impact to people's lives and future generations if one was to be launched."