Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner election: Steve Turner and Matt Storey set out their plans

Candidates vying for the role of Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner told Rachel Bullock what they have to offer

Cleveland Police is the sixth smallest force in the country but has the highest crime rate per 1,000 people.

Next month, people living in the force area will go to the polls to elect their next Police and Crime Commissioner.

They will be responsible for setting the force's priorities, budgets and holding senior officers to account.

There are two candidates. Conservative Steve Turner, who has held the position since 2021, and Labour's Matt Storey, who currently serves as a councillor for the Middlesbrough Central ward.

ITV Tyne Tees spoke to both candidates about the major issues facing the force - from knife crime and anti-social behaviour to drug abuse and police officer numbers.

Conservative Steve Turner (left) and Matt Storey (right) are the two candidates in the running for Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Knife crime

Steve Turner: "We are already tackling it with our violence reduction unit. People have to understand where Cleveland came from.

"In 2012 we had around 500 violent incidents every day, we were then up to 3,000 but we are back down towards 2,000 now.

"That's because of the proactive work we do. We are increasing stop and search and it's only with a partnership approach that we can really hope to combat knife crime."

Matt Storey: "Knife crime is an issue that affects all of our communities across Cleveland but it is also predominantly linked to young people.

"I think what we need to do is make sure the police have good links with colleges and schools so we are talking to young people about the dangers of knife crime.

"Police have to have that educational role as well as enforcement."

Cleveland has the second highest rate of knife crime in the country. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Anti-social behaviour

Steve Turner: "I have invested over £1million in antisocial behaviour hotspots and we are seeing antisocial behaviour reports drop by as much as 70% in those hotspots we are targeting.

"With bikes, we have taken a really proactive approach. Through my COPA (Cleveland Police Online Policing App) app, people are reporting them and we are going to where they live. We are taking them off the street.

"In the last three months of 2023, we seized and crushed over 600 illegal bikes and quads."

Matt Storey: "It needs to be given parity with crime because often anti-social behaviour can be just as damaging to communities as crime.

"With retail crime, we need to protect our shop workers and ensure our town centres are as safe as possible because otherwise we can't economically regenerate our area.

"On off-road bikes, we need more drones. We need drones to track people to their homes so [we] can impound the bikes and arrest the perpetrators."

Antisocial behaviour is a problem in Cleveland. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Drug abuse

Steve Turner: "We have our matrix team who are targeting organised crime gangs.

"We have got Project Adder which is taking millions of pounds worth of drugs off the streets, making hundreds of arrests and safeguarding vulnerable people.

"But from my office's perspective, we are also working with schools, with health, with our local authorities and other providers to make sure we take a multi-agency approach."

Matt Storey: "We need more resources at Cleveland Police. We have seen our resources cut over the last 14 years. If we had more resources we could tackle drugs more effectively in our communities.

"What we often find with drugs is it is a medical issue that needs to be treated as well. So we need treatment programmes alongside enforcement but it does involve more cash.

"We need the Government to stump up the money we need in Cleveland."

Cleveland has a high rate of drug crime. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Police officer numbers

Steve Turner: "Since 2019 we have put another 300 officers back on the streets of Cleveland and we have pledged another 48 this year.

"We are working closely with the chief constable to ensure the officers we do have in the force are where they need to be out on the streets.

"As an organisation, Cleveland Police is now the biggest it has ever been."

Matt Storey: "I would want to do everything possible to ensure there is a community officer for every area of Cleveland.

"We have lost 500 officers since 2010 and even with the uplift we are still 287 short. If we had that resource, if we had a named officer for every area of Cleveland, we could properly tackle crime in our communities."

The election for the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner is on Thursday 2 May.

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