Policing Minister: We're recruiting more officers to tackle Teesside knife crime

The Policing Minister Kit Malthouse has said more police officers are being recruited to help bring down Teesside's high knife crime rate.

The Cleveland Police area has the second highest knife crime rate in the country, with over 122 incidents recorded per 100,000 of the population between April 2020 and March 2021.

In an ITV News Tyne Tees special report, Detective Chief Inspector of Cleveland Police Steve Chatterton said "resourcing issues" are partially responsible.

"I can't deny that the resourcing issues that we have in the police with the low numbers that we've currently got has a knock on effect," he said.

"The more resources that we would have would have, the more visible we could be on the street which would then have a knock on effect on people carrying knives."

Barney Green, a surgeon at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough - which admits one stabbing victim every three days - believes funding is the main problem.

In an exclusive interview with ITV News Tyne Tees, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said the link between "between the number of police officers and the level of crime is a more complicated one than a direct one".

However, he acknowledged there is a "violence problem" in the area and said more officers are being recruited.

Responding to whether his June pledge to tackle violent crime in the area has been a success, Mr Malthouse said:

"Well it’s early days and obviously we are pumping significant extra capacity into Cleveland," he began.

"It is certainly the case that a really focused force can have a big impact on crime," he continued.

"We are increasing officer numbers. 194 are already in Cleveland with more to come."

Mr Malthouse declined to comment on whether officer numbers would return to 2010 levels, simply saying they will be “a lot higher than they are now”. 

Cleveland Police is a force mired in controversy.

Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner recently admitted to receiving a caution for handling stole goods in the late 1990s.

He is now refusing to resign after allegations surfaced of an historical sexual offence.

Mr Malthouse refused to comment on whether Mr Turner should resign.

Cleveland Police are currently searching for a new Chief Constable after Richard Lewis resigned in July for a new post in Wales.

Mr Malthouse said they are searching for a "good and assertive" replacement.