THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland has urged the government to rethink its funding to tackle serious violence after the area was excluded from a share of a £98m fund.

PCC Barry Coppinger said he wanted to challenge the decision following eight years of "systematic underfunding" in policing, which he claims has cost Cleveland Police, 500 police officers and 50 PCSOs since 2010.

Mr Coppinger also invited the Home Secretary Priti Patel to attend a Cleveland multi-agency serious violence conference in October to see the force in action.

In a letter to Ms Patel, Mr Coppinger said he wanted to 'address' inequalities in the decision to exclude the force and not invite forces, or allow other PCCs to make a case for their own area.

He said: "I am deeply concerned that Cleveland does not feature on the Home Office’s list of police force areas most affected by serious violence – despite being in the top ten highest levels of recorded violent incidents in the country."

Last week, eighteen PCCs from across the country were awarded a share of £35m, part of a £98m serious violence fund, to set up their own Violence Reduction Units.

Despite having the fourth highest level of recorded violet crime per 1,000 people in the country, Cleveland was not selected.

Mr Coppinger said the government's decision-making in sharing out the funding across forces had been solely based on the number of hospital admissions for people that had been 'assaulted with a sharp object'.

He said: "Using out-of-date hospital admission figures to identify problem areas and allocate resources provides a one-dimensional view of the extent of serious violence, and does not take into consideration the evidenced surge in knife crime which has taken place over the last 12 months.

“The data also fails to take into account the number of hospital admissions per population, which has left Cleveland at a disadvantage as one of the smaller policing areas in the country."

“If the government had looked at the issue proportionally, they would see that Middlesbrough has the same level of knife crime-related hospital admissions as Doncaster, a city with double the population and whose area is already a major recipient of funding."

Mr Coppinger said it was imperative that government reconsidered their decision to use hospital figures.

He said: “It’s imperative that the government rethinks their decision to use hospital admission figures as a measure for serious violence, to ensure that areas like Cleveland have the resources they need to tackle an issue that has a lasting impact on victims and communities.”

In the region, Northumbria's PCC and force was awarded £1.6m to set up a Violence Reduction Unit.