A police chief has set out his plans to continue delivering improvements to a force once branded the ‘worst in the country’ and drive down soaring crime rates.

Chief Constable Mark Webster took over the reigns of Cleveland Police less than a year ago but has been praised by independent inspectors for bringing stability to the force which was mired in scandal for more than a decade.

The force has been making significant strides since they were put in special measures in 2019 following a disastrous inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) but there is still work to do.

A follow-up inspection two-years ago showed the force was heading in the right direction and the latest PEEL inspection has recognised the enormity of the problems they were facing.

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Mr Webster said he is proud of the work that his officers and senior management team have achieved since his appointment and is determined to bring the force out of special measures.

He said: “We I started, I said I was really impressed with the people and what I take from, this report is that if you give them a clear mission and if you support them, they will deliver and they have.

“What I take from it is an awful lot of pride and confidence in the police officers who work here – it’s really quite humbling seeing how much work they have done in the 11 months I have been here.”

The Northern Echo: Cleveland Police Chief Constable Mark WebsterCleveland Police Chief Constable Mark Webster (Image: Agency)

The Chief Constable said he appreciates the amount of work required to resolve the two areas that were rated as ‘inadequate’ – preventing crime and use of resources – but is confident that the stability of the management team will reap rewards.

He said: “We have got dedicated commanders in post and we are making progress day by day, so my feeling is that it is not going too much longer before we can demonstrate a much better case in the areas still marked as inadequate.

“We need to make sure we are working on preventing crime happening in the first place and when it is happening, we problem solve rather than just turn up and deal with before walking away.

“The prevention work is really important to ensure that this area doesn’t have the highest crime rate in England and Wales in the future.”

Addressing the problem of better use of resources, he said: “Where demand is coming to the police that isn’t our responsibility, we need to make sure we deal with that because people want to see police officers out there fighting crime not necessarily dealing with mental health crisis cases as we are not the right people to deal with that anyway.”

The Chief Constable’s efforts are being supported and closely monitored by Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner.

The Northern Echo: Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Steve TurnerPolice and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Steve Turner

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“If you look at where the force was when I started and where it is now, you have to be proud of the achievements,” he said.

“The areas where improvement is still needed have made significant progress but there is still a lot of work to do. One of the worst criticisms was how we protected vulnerable people and there has been significant improvement there.

“The force has good leadership and that is giving the officers confidence to be able to do their jobs.

“I always said that the problems could not be fixed in my first term in office but we are heading in the right direction.”