Happy New Year! Doesn't Christmas feel like a lifetime ago already? I hope you all had a wonderful festive period and aren't too bored of being back in your daily routine.
We've had a busy start to the year with lots of budget considerations. At the end of December we had news from the Home Office that Police and Crime Commissioners would be given flexibility to increase the precept in the council tax bill by £24 per year (for a band D property).
Asking the public to pay more is not a decision I take lightly and I really want to know what you all think.
Last year over 70% of those who expressed an interest supported my plans to invest an additional £12 a year in your police force and if you carry on reading below you can see what we did with that investment.
This year I am asking our communities if they would be prepared to invest once more - to support the chief constable’s proposals to recruit an extra 85 police officers and bringing officer numbers up to 3,100 by the end of 2020, the highest number of officers since the old Police Authority voted to cut officer numbers to 2,815 in 2012.
I want to hear from as many people as possible so I'd be grateful if you could take time to answer a few questions to let me know your views (this should only take about two minutes).
Please read below for more information about the proposal and what we could achieve with the additional revenue to keep our communities safe.
You can take the short survey here.
Have your say on police numbers in Devon and Cornwall
Alison Hernandez is asking the public of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly if they would support a 'pay more, get more' approach to police numbers.
Residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are being asked if they would be prepared to pay around 40p a week more to fund improvements to policing, including 85 more officers.
Currently most households in the region contribute less than £3.20 a week to pay for policing through the council tax precept.
Last year you supported plans for extra investment in our force and with that we: fast-tracked police officer recruitment; recruited tri-service officers in Cornwall and community responders in Devon; rolled out body-worn cameras; invested in 38 armed response officers; created a new policing unit for Torbay and south Devon; developed fit for purpose operational headquarters for both Cornwall and Devon.
A rise of 41p a week for a band C property (most households in the force area are band C or below) would allow the force to recruit 85 officers by the end of 2020, taking the force strength to 3,100 officers – the highest level since police and crime commissioners were introduced in 2012.
A total of 85 officers will allow the chief constable to deploy a police officer in every sector who will be solely responsible for better connecting the police and the public; recruit more detectives to investigate crimes and bring more criminals to justice; recruit more response officers so we can get to more incidents, more often and in better time and maintain our investment in roads policing.
The front line will also be bolstered with the release of 30 experienced officers from back-office functions at police headquarters in Exeter after Alison took the decision not to press ahead with a merger with Dorset Police.
Without the increase in funding Devon and Cornwall Police would have to halt recruitment and revisit plans for frontline officer numbers.
A final decision will be made by the Police and Crime Commissioner ahead of the next meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel on Friday, February 8.
Alison is asking for people to make their views on the precept known by completing a brief survey (click here) or by calling the office on 01392 225555.
More information is available on our website.
New combined emergency services responders for communities in Devon
On-call firefighters set to be community responders visit the Devon and Cornwall Police control room at Middlemoor.
Devon and Cornwall Police has welcomed seven on-call firefighters from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service who will be trained as special constables in a new role known as a community responder.
This innovative police and fire collaboration project is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner and will improve access to the emergency services for communities in Devon.
These new 'community responders' will have the ability to go to both fire and police incidents, increasing both police presence and the number of available on-call firefighters in communities.
This unique pilot is a national first, encompassing the skills of an on-call firefighter and special constable in a single post.
Seven community responders have been recruited into locations where there is a need based on risk, vulnerability and harm.
Cullompton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Honiton, Okehampton, Newton Abbot and Totnes are all set to have a community responder later this year.
The project will improve response times in rural locations, better connect with the public and deliver joined up prevention activities providing a better service to our communities keeping everyone safe.
Find out more >
Survey respondents back call to increase fines for speeding motorists
An overwhelming number of those who took part in a speeding survey have backed a call for increased fines for those who flout the law.
Currently those receiving a fixed penalty notice for breaking the speed limit face three penalty points and a fine of £100 – potentially less than those caught littering from a car. Cash raised from the fines goes straight to the Government.
But Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, wants fines to be raised and a proportion of that money returned to police forces so it can be reinvested in road safety measures.
A total of 2,680 people took part in the online survey run by the PCC, who is national lead for road safety for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. The results show overwhelming support for more stringent enforcement of road traffic laws (85% in favour), stiffer penalties for those caught speeding (80% in favour) and for a proportion of the money from fines to come locally for road safety initiatives and enforcement (88% in favour).
Read more >
Helping victims of crime rebuild shattered lives
Being a victim of crime is often worse than might be imagined, even if the offence falls into a category defined as ‘minor’. I’m not keen on that term because even non-violent offences or those where items of little financial value are stolen or damaged can have a devastating and a long lasting impact.
Not only might the injured party have lost something material, or been hurt emotionally or physically, but their faith in humanity is likely to have been shaken. They might not trust others as much as they did before, or feel as safe in their community.
Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has some of the most caring police officers and robust communities in the country. It also boasts one of the lowest crime rates of any force area. Nonetheless when police officers have done their job investigating offences the legacy of the crime lasts with the victim, their friends, family and community. The impact of more major offences, such as sexual offences, is likely to last for the rest of someone’s life.
Full story >
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