Every crime is being investigated by Cleveland Police where possible, the area’s police and crime commissioner has said.

Steve Turner, who oversees the force’s strategic direction and attempts to hold it to account, was asked if this was the case at a meeting and replied: “Yes, absolutely”.

PCC Mr Turner went on to suggest that crime data integrity – in essence how accurately and effectively crime is recorded and one aspect the force rates highly in – hadn’t always been at the same level.

The Northern Echo: From left to right, Cleveland Police and Commissioner Steve Turner, Chief Constable Mark Webster and Councillor Tony Riordan, chairman of the ClevelandFrom left to right, Cleveland Police and Commissioner Steve Turner, Chief Constable Mark Webster and Councillor Tony Riordan, chairman of the Cleveland (Image: LDR)

He said: “Ironically part of the reason Cleveland Police often appears at the wrong end of the table is because we absolutely report everything and record it in the way it should be recorded.

“In the past that perhaps hasn’t always been the case.”

Mr Turner later clarified his comments and said while the force sometimes faced challenges, “every report is assessed and where a crime has a viable line of enquiry it will be followed up”.

In September the force was moved out of special measures by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, a position it had been in since a 2019 report saw it graded as inadequate in all areas, described as “rudderless and clueless” and labelled the worst police force in the country.

Following a revisit in March the inspectorate highlighted a number of improvements that had taken place, one of which was said to be making better use of problem solving techniques to make communities safer.

The Northern Echo: Steve Turner Conservative candidate for Cleveland Police and Crime CommissionerSteve Turner Conservative candidate for Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner (Image: LDR)

The way the force went about investigating crimes was previously flagged as a concern with a requirement that investigation plans should be created where applicable, with supervisory oversight making sure all investigation opportunities were followed up and appropriate investigation carried out.

The chairman of the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel, Councillor Tony Riordan, a former senior detective with Cleveland Police before his retirement, pointed out that viable lines of enquiry were needed in any potential investigation.

Speaking after a meeting of the panel, which draws together local council representatives and independent members, he said: “All crimes are investigated and are not just recorded for the sake of recording a crime because you don’t catch perpetrators this way, you need to do some level of investigation.

“That said there are some crimes that just do not avail themselves of a line of enquiry that might lead to the perpetrator.”

Cllr Riordan gave the example of a person deliberately breaking a window to the cost of £5 who then leaves the country before being apprehended.

He said: “Is it appropriate to chase that person for the sake of £5 – there is always an appropriateness with any line of enquiry.

“If they’d committed murder and went abroad you’d continue investigating and pursuing them, it’s that balance.

“I am quite happy that investigations are carried out, but it does not always necessitate a physical visit.

“There is a process where basic lines of inquiry are followed such as knocking on neighbours doors, is there any CCTV in the street, has anybody seen anything, is there any forensic opportunity at the scene to find the perpetrator.

“If there’s not, it is quite right that an investigation or enquiry is closed, but it is always still there should something come along at a later date.”

The Stockton councillor added: “I am confident that our police force having gone through special measures are investigating thoroughly with all available lines of enquiry pursued because that was one of the criticisms before.” 

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Speaking in May last year, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said he had heard “horror stories” about the way Cleveland Police responded to calls about crimes being committed and claimed it had not been doing its job.

In September Chief Constable Mark Webster told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the organisation – which he joined in April 2022 – was a “very different entity” to what it previously was, but acknowledged that there was more work to do.

The chief constable also said he was striving to ensure victims of crime were provided with regular updates on their case from officers, which would improve confidence.