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Middlesbrough mayor calls for Cleveland PCC to stand down

Andy Preston
Image caption Andy Preston says a new PCC was needed to work alongside the force's new chief constable

Middlesbrough's independent mayor has called on Cleveland's police and crime commissioner (PCC) to stand down to offer local people "a fresh start".

Andy Preston described Labour's Barry Coppinger as "really pleasant" but said the situation at the troubled force did not call for "Mr Nice Guy".

He urged him to step aside so a new PCC could be elected.

Mr Coppinger said he had issued "clear strategic direction" to the new chief constable to tackle the issues.

Cleveland Police has had five chief constables in six years with Mike Veale resigning in January on the back of allegations of "serious misconduct". 

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary also criticised its work practices following a recent visit.

'Dire period'

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported that Andy Preston said: "The force has suffered scandal after scandal, a series of failings and Cleveland's crime figures are the second worst in the country.

"The one common theme throughout this dire period has been Barry Coppinger as the elected official responsible for Cleveland Police.

"He's a very pleasant man but the situation doesn't call for Mr Nice Guy.

"So, reluctantly, I have to say now is the time for him to confirm that next year he'll stand down.

"An election would give us a fresh start with a new PCC to work alongside our new chief constable."

Image copyright Evening Gazette
Image caption Barry Coppinger was elected as the Cleveland PCC in 2012

Mr Coppinger said: "Mr Preston is aware and, I believe, supportive of the innovative work my office and the force is carrying out, including pioneering initiatives to tackle drug addiction, knife crime and extremism.

"I was therefore surprised that he chose to use the force as a political football and do so on social media rather than discussing his concerns with me - or raising them at the police and crime panel last week where I reported extensively on progress.

"If he wants to start a campaign about the PCC elections that is his prerogative [but] I shall be focussing on holding the chief constable to account in delivering the changes required."

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