Sunderland refused almost £1m of funding to fight burglary in decision crime commissioner brands a 'cruel snub'

The decision to shun a £1 million campaign to keep thieves out of homes and businesses on Wearside has been branded a “cruel snub”.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 5:28 pm
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuiness has said she will write to the Home Office to find out why the bids for funding to prevent burglaries was turned down.

The office of Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner made a bid for funding from the Home Office with the backing of city leaders, making the case for £494,479 for the Hendon area of Sunderland and £373,014 to support the New Town area of Houghton.

But today, the team has been told it has not been granted the cash – it now plans to write to the Government to find out why.

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Had it been pledged, the Hendon funds would have targeted empty properties, which have been damaged as boilers and pipework have been ripped out to sell for scrap.

There were plans to install CCTV throughout the area – which experienced 57 burglaries between January last year and this March - including in back lanes where thieves use the access to drive off with stolen goods.

Other proposals drafted up included support for residents’ groups and burglary prevention packs, such as locks, alarms and motion-activated lighting, with support for the community to help people feel safe.

It was hoped a project could teach people DIY tips so they could protect their properties and learn a skill, while the use of vinyl stickers, which have been used to make empty houses look more attractive rather than them being boarded-up, would have been expanded.

Businesses would have also been helped, with support for owners to refurbish their properties to improve the area’s appearance.

Northumbria Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “This is hugely disappointing news and a cruel snub by the Home Secretary.

"My job is to help the police prevent crime and fight crime, but that task is near impossible if the Government will not give us the funding to do that job.

"We’re talking about a bid that would have provided nearly £1 million in burglary kits, CCTV systems and funds to sort out derelict properties.

"These are things that would have made a real difference to cutting crime, to make people feel safe in their homes.

"My office will be writing to the Home Office to ask why Sunderland has been snubbed this way.”

Councillor Michael Mordey is deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership and a ward member for Hendon.

He said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision and said it was a “further slap in the face" for policing in the area, which has been hit by the impact of officer numbers being cut.

He added: “Not a single penny of the £25 million pot will come to Northumbria Police.

“I will do all I can, working with our local police and PCC to tackle the crime and antisocial behaviour in our area, but until the Tory Government funds police forces properly that work is going to be even more difficult.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Safer Streets Funding was awarded following an open, fair and transparent competition, with successful applications demonstrating how projects would deliver the aims of the programme.

“Northumbria PCC’s bid did not meet the requirements for funding and we will provide the PCC with full feedback.”

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