AS he officially took office today (Thursday, November 22), Cleveland’s new Police and Crime Commissioner slammed Westminster for not doing enough to promote the role ahead of elections.

Labour’s Barry Coppinger, who had criticised the implementation of the role prior to running for it, blamed the 15 per cent turn out for the elections – one of the lowest in living memory – on a lack of public understanding.

During a meeting at Stockton Police Office where he met high ranking members of Cleveland Police force before taking to the streets to patrol with officers, Mr Coppinger said: “The concept was a controversial one when first raised… I think it was not really promoted well and the public were not really convinced by it. That is down to Westminster and Whitehall who should have done more work to sell it to the public."

Loading article content

He added: “We are here now and I will be working to raise the profile of the role and make it succeed.”

Mr Coppinger also discussed restoring the reputation of Cleveland Police, currently tarnished by corruption allegations relating to Operation Sacristy.

He said: “Public confidence in Cleveland Police force is still high and it ranks as one of the top three forces in the country for that but there is potential to do a lot more work in promoting a positive image of policing and community safety and that is going to form a major part of my role.”

Mr Coppinger has already brought about changes to Cleveland Police’s structure by replacing chief executive Stuart Pudney with the secondment of Ed Chicken, Middlesbrough Council’s head of community safety.

When asked about the decision, he said: “Cleveland Police Authority has ceased to exist. The PCC role is much broader and there is a different set of responsibilities.

"What I have done is brought a secondee in who has a broad range of skills which will help me set up appropriate support mechanisms.”