Archive for Police & Crime

Tom calls for more action on assaults on Police Officers

Tom has called on the government to take steps to keep Police Officers safe from attacks.

161011 TB protect police

In a debate organised Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, Tom said he was concerned that cuts in police numbers were risking officer safety, as more police patrols were conducted by lone officers. He also highlighted the case of one Cleveland Police Officer who had twice suffered a broken jaw in the last year as a result of being assaulted.

During a ‘Protect the Protectors’ event in Parliament Tom met with members of the Police Federation and serving Police Officers to discuss the latest assault figures and discuss how violence towards the police affected their ability to protect their communities.

The most recent Home Office figures on police officer assaults show that there were approximately 23,000 assaults on Police Officers with nearly 250 assaults in Cleveland alone.

However, even this is thought to be an underestimate as the Home Office believe that many assaults go unreported. Some police forces do not collect data recording the total number of assaults meaning that the national figures provide an incomplete picture of the situation.

Tom said:

Police Officers in my constituency and around the country work to keep people safe, but increasingly they are at risk themselves.

Cleveland Police work tirelessly to protect my constituents – the least we can do is ask that police are given proper support and those who attack police are properly punished.

I fear that government cuts are contributing to the problem. The Tories need to get their act together when it comes to recording and tackling this sort of crime.

Tom raises concerns over probation privatisation plans

In an Opposition Day Debate today (30th October 2013) local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, will attempt to highlight some of his concerns over Government proposals to privatise the Probation Service.

In the Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust area – which includes Tom’s Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland constituency – the number of supervised offenders in 2012 was 7917 and many of these were guilty of serious crimes including robbery, sex attacks and burglaries. Currently they are being supervised by highly trained professional probation officers that, under the Government’s plans, will be off-loaded to private companies such as G4S and Serco.

Tom said:
“It’s disappointing that today is the first real opportunity to even debate these proposals; ones that could see private companies with a record of failure being responsible for people who have committed crimes like domestic violence, burglary, robbery and sexual violence. There hasn’t even been a pilot of the plans for one of the biggest overhauls ever of such a vital service.

“You can’t take risks with public safety yet this is precisely what the Government is doing with their reckless plans to privatise the Probation Service. Handing over supervision for serious and violent offenders to the same companies that time and again let down the taxpayer is a recipe for disaster.

“Since these plans aren’t due to be implemented until 2015 there is no reason that the Government cannot put those fears to bed.

“Instead of ploughing on, at the very least they need to establish a pilot, find out what works and what doesn’t and then proceed accordingly. If it is a complete failure then have more respect for the system that is currently in place and see what is working there, build on that and eliminate the weaknesses.”

‘Election folly waste of taxpayer cash in hard times’

Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (16th November 2012) criticised the Coalition Government in what he described as “a waste of taxpayers’ money” after one of their flagship policies – elected Police and Crime Commissioners – received record low turnouts for the election.

Tom said:
“Up and down the country public services are being systematically eroded away by Government cuts yet they have saw fit to waste £100 million on these elections that, by all reports so far, have received very little public support. It raises serious concerns over the legitimacy of the role and over Government priorities when public finances are stretched.

“In Redcar and Cleveland alone the election cost £180,000 and the local authority is one of the hardest hit by Government cuts yet the turnout was only approximately 13%. It’s a clear indication that these commissioners are unwanted by the public and it was repeatedly pointed out that the Government had run the election abysmally with very little information provided.

“At a time when frontline police are being cut, hospitals and libraries are under threat and SureStart centres are at risk it is a disgrace such an obscene amount of money has been spent on this election. The turnout figures are a clear message for the Government. They should look at what has taken place and, in future, actually think through their policies before they waste any more money from the public purse that would be better used to protect frontline services.”

Tom reacts to dismissal of Cleveland Police Chief Constable

Tom Blenkinsop MP, commenting on today’s (5th October 2012) news that Cleveland Police Chief, Sean Price, has been found guilty of gross misconduct said:

“The outcome of this hearing is a clear condemnation of the behaviour exercised by those in positions where trust and incorruptibility are of a paramount importance.

“It is reassuring to hear from the Police Authority that at no point did the staff member concerned, who has been widely reported by the media to be the daughter of the former Authority chair Cllr David McLuckie, act improperly during the recruitment process. However, I also feel that a statement from Cllr McLuckie clarifying what role, if any, he had in the recruitment process would be appreciated by myself and by Cleveland’s taxpayers.

“Although I understand Sacristy has a much wider scope, the dismissal of Mr Price highlights that there were widespread problems within Cleveland Police Authority. I believe that investigators now need to speed Sacristy up, for Cleveland Police Authority to be open about what other misconduct charges would have been, and allow the matter to be speedily taken into a courtroom setting if there has been corruption. The big job then, is to rebuild the leadership, reputation and probity of Cleveland Police.”

Local MP set to ask Ken Clarke about why “violent convict” Sharkey was allowed to work at Newham Grange leisure farm

Tom Blenkinsop, the Labour Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, is set to ask the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke, about why Bernard Lee Sharkey, a violent convicted prisoner, was allowed to work at the leisure farm at Newham Grange.

Tom said:
“I find myself somewhat amazed that Her Majesty’s Prison Service felt it appropriate to allow a prisoner serving an indefinite sentence for public protection to work in a family environment in my constituency, like Newham Grange Country Farm in Coulby Newham. Whilst rehabilitation is important, it was quite clearly not the correct decision in this instance to permit him to work in such a place.

“In the House of Commons, I will be asking Ken Clarke, the Secretary of State who is responsible for prisons in England and Wales, a series of questions surrounding the circumstances of this escape. My constituents deserve to know what risk assessment was undertaken by the Prison Service, how often similar incidents have happened in the past elsewhere in both the region and the country, and what steps the Prison Service will take to stop the public being put at risk by any future such occurrences.

“I will also be asking the Home Secretary, Theresa May, what estimate she has made of the cost that police forces face attempting to find escaped prisoners like Bernard Lee Sharkey, and whether the Prison Service compensates local police forces involved in such manhunts.”

In addition, Tom has written to Cleveland Police and Her Majesty’s Prison Service asking for an update on their inquiries.

Shock as victims of crime compensation is slashed

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland has expressed dismay after the House of Lords voted through changes to the victim Criminal Injury Compensation Board.

Around 17,000 victims of crime will no longer receive compensation after Coalition peers voted for changes to the Criminal Injury Compensation Board.

13,000 more people who receive more serious injuries, like a fractured skull, damage to their eyes or even minor brain damage, will get reduced amount of compensation.

Tom said:
“The Government are soft on crime but tough on the victims of crime. 17,000 people with injuries such as a dislocated jaw or a fractured rib will no longer receive any compensation because their injuries are classed as ‘temporary’.

“There were 517 more crimes reported in Cleveland last year meaning that you are more likely to become a victim of crime and less likely to receive any compensation. Estimates show that 83% of crime victims will see the compensation they get reduced or removed.

“It’s clear that the coalition governments deficit cutting plan is failing, but they are still using it as an excuse to cut funding from the most needy. The Government is putting deficit reduction before the victims of crime.”

Police levels drop to a 9 year low

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop has expressed concern at Home Office figures that reveal police numbers in England and Wales have dropped to the lowest numbers in nine years.

The Home Office Report revealed that the total number of police officers fell by 5,009 compared to this time last year.

Tom said:

“These figures are shocking. David Cameron said frontline policing would not be hit by his huge 20% cuts to our force, but the truth is that frontline officers are being cut.

“Neighbourhood officers, 999 response and traffic police are being cut right across the country. 62 of these visible officers are being lost in Cleveland.

“The blame for these cuts lies squarely with the Tory-led Government. Cleveland Police have been put in an impossible decision by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20%. The recent 1% increase in crime in the Cleveland Police area proves that spending on the Police is necessary to keep crime down.

“I recognise savings need to be made, but the Government has doubled Labour’s cuts to police funding, and made the steepest cuts in the first two years. That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police.

“Our police are under pressure like never before, as the Police Federation said at their conference: 20% Police cuts are criminal.”

No-show G4S staff pile pressure on Police frontline

Reacting to today’s (16th July 2012) reports that private security firm, G4S, have failed to provide enough staff for Olympic venues and that at least 9 forces were providing officers as backup, Tom Blenkinsop MP described the revelations as “shambolic” and representative of the Government’s “incompetence to protect the public”.

North East police force, Northumbria Police, have been drafted in to cover Olympic football security.

Tom said:
“At a time when police on the frontline are being stretched to breaking point this latest blunder from G4S is totally unacceptable. More telling is the fact that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, was already aware of the issues surrounding security for Olympic venues and athletes. This latest incident provides a clear example of the risks posed by involving profit-motivated companies into providing a public service. A lot of money has been spent involving G4S and stories over the last few days do not inspire confidence in them.

“Unfortunately, this is only the latest example of incompetence by the Government that seems to be emerging by the hour. For example, it was only this morning that we heard about the Home Office wasting almost £500,000 on rubber bullets that were not fit for purpose in response to last summer’s riots.

“Over the next few weeks the whole world will be watching the UK closely as the Olympic Games take place. The Government needs to get its act together and put an end to these embarrassing stories or the country will become a laughing stock.”

Tom slams Tory-led cuts to frontline police

Tom Blenkinsop MP today (3rd July 2012) slammed Tory-led cuts to the Police after the report ‘Policing in Austerity: One year on’ revealed that 750 posts will be cut in Cleveland.

The report provides further proof that the Tory-led Government has no strategy to deal with crime, only to cut police officers.

Tom said:
“David Cameron promised that frontline policing would not be affected by his huge 20% cut in funding, but this report is proof that you can’t have cuts on that scale without an impact on the frontline.

“Neighbourhood officers, 999 response and traffic police are being cut right across the country. In Cleveland 750 posts will be cut, 270 of which will be police officers, that is a 15% reduction compared to the England and Wales average of 10%.

“Anyone with basic common sense can see that decreasing the number of police officers on the frontline will lead to an increase in crime, and that is exactly what we have already begun to witness.

“Here in Cleveland, we saw a 3% increase in overall crime rates between December 2010 and December 2011. Robbery increased by 8%, burglary by 11% and criminal damage and arson by 3%. These figures will only get worse as the police cuts continue.

“Savings need to be made, but the Government’s decision to double Labour’s cuts to police funding and enforce the steepest cuts in the first two years is a brutal attack on our police force that at the same time threatens the safety of our communities.”

Tom supports Police on frontline against cuts

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, yesterday (10th May 2012) showed his support as off duty police officers from Teesside took their campaign – ’20% police cuts are criminal’ – to the streets. The campaign highlights the huge cuts to police numbers and the risk to crime and public safety.

Tom said:
“Police taking to the streets on this scale to campaign against the Government’s cuts is unprecedented. Theresa May is ignoring all the warning signs about the risks she is taking, and she has forced the Police to take direct action.

“I, along with my Labour colleagues, voted against the 20% cuts and have continually campaigned for the Government to change its plan. By the time of the next election, Cleveland will have lost 224 police officers but, as I have previously mentioned, Theresa May has failed to visit the area once since becoming the Home Secretary.

“The Government is arrogant and will no doubt plough ahead with these cuts, but I felt it was necessary to support local police officers who are keeping our communities safe.”