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HOME SECRETARY SAYS NO TO POLICE INQUIRY SOUGHT BY COUNCIL

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The home office has turned down a request by Hartlepool BC to conduct a public inquiry into the affairs of the Clev...
The home office has turned down a request by Hartlepool BC to conduct a public inquiry into the affairs of the Cleveland police service.

Earlier this year former council leader Arthur Preece wroteto home secretary David Blunkett after a special resolution was passed by the full council.

In the letter to Mr Blunkett, Mr Preece said: 'Members of all political groups on Hartlepool Council noted, over an extended period, the gradual and continuing erosion in the Hartlepool publics' confidence in the Cleveland police service.

'A number of high profile events over recent months have caused members to question seriously the management of the service, accelerated by recent speculation in respect of the police budget'.

This culminated in Hartlepool residents having to pay 38 per cent more to cover policing costs as part of their council tax bill.

Almost three months after Mr Preece's letter home office minister John Denham says that the home secretary is not prepared to intervene.

'I have been advised by the HMIC that the management of Cleveland police has put in a steady performance, against a difficult situation following the Lancet Inquiry. I have considered carefully and taken advice from the HMIC on the Cleveland police budget and reason for the significant increase this year. I am satisfied that in all the circumstance, the budget is not unreasonable. I am therefore, not minded to take the matter further at this stage', he says.

Speaking today Mr Preece said: 'It would appear that Mr Blunkett has totally underestimated the strength of public opinion and this response does nothing to restore public confidence in the Cleveland police service.

'The long awaited reply from Mr Denham makes absolutely no reference at all to the council's concerns over the collapse of public confidence. There is no doubt that there are still lots of unanswered questions that remain'.

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