LABOUR MPs have joined together to demand better funding for Cleveland Police after seeing violent crime soar by 46 per cent in the last year.

Rising crime rates coupled with deprivation, drug problems, high rates of asylum seekers and refugees as well as a suicide rate at double the national average mean the area desperately needs more government funding, the politicians argued.

Teesside's five Labour MPs, along with Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, have put their names to a letter to a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid in which they say: "Cleveland Police has insufficient resources and growing demand.

"This is of concern to many of the people that we represent."

They pointed out that the Cleveland area had the highest level of looked-after children nationally, more than three times the national average of asylum seeker and refugees, and some of the highest levels of drug usage, drug deaths and the cheapest supplies.

The MPs - Hartlepool's Mike Hill, Alex Cunningham of Stockton North, Paul Williams of Stockton South, Anna Turley of Redcar and Middlesbrough's Andy McDonald, ask for an urgent meeting due to their 'serious ongoing concerns about the fundamentally flawed policing funding formula'.

"This has recently delivered the lowest grant increase in the country for an area with the fourth highest recorded crime rate.

"This perpetuates the ongoing loss of £40m in grant to Cleveland and the resultant loss of 500 police officers and 50 PCSOs since 2010.

"Whilst the PCC has recently secured public and Police & Crime Panel support6 for an increase, yielding £1.8m, it in no way recovers eight years of cuts within some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK."

Cleveland has higher adult depression rates than elsewhere and a suicide rate which is double the national average.

Crime is also on the rise, with murder rates up 400 per cent – 15 in 2018 compared with three the previous year; violent crime is up 46 per cent, domestic abuse up 54 per cent, robbery up 35 per cent and missing children up 17 per cent.

The MPs said: "(Cleveland) has some of the cheapest housing stock, which can lead to high levels of sex offenders residing, as lower costs make it easier to set up halfway homes and accommodation for offenders."

Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Simon Clarke has argued that Cleveland has the third highest funding per head of population.