We've had another busy month in June with important meetings about road safety, drug rehabilitation and almost everything in between.
My team have been out and about across Devon and Cornwall speaking to people at 24 different community groups, events and shows. The focus of this year's engagement is about policing priorities, so if you spot them out and about anywhere have a chat, they are always keen to hear your views.
Just the other week I went before the Police and Crime Panel, the group of elected councillors who scrutinise my decisions.
It was a great opportunity for the Chief Constable and I to explain in greater detail to these elected members about the details of our summer policing campaign and bid for a special grant from Government to help us cope with this addition demand on our resources.
When we look at the data we can see that the number of incidents reported to police in August rises in several police sectors by more than a third when compared to March. These include Bodmin (32%) Newquay (53%) Penzance and St Ives (34%) and Totnes and Dartmouth (32%).
While it's fantastic news that our tourism sector has enjoyed such incredible success in recent years, I want the Government to recognise that we are not funded to police this additional population adequately.
Read more about this and other news from the office below.
Police force unpaid to protect population the size of Exeter due to huge visitor influx
Devon and Cornwall Police is unpaid to protect a population the size of Exeter due to the influx of summer visitors, new figures show.
The two counties and six islands host 40m overnight stays from domestic tourists - 12% of the England and Wales total and more than any other force, Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Panel heard today.
In addition international travellers contribute a further 5m stays. Spread across the year the combined figures mean a population rise of 125,000 people – about the size of Exeter only spread across a wide geography.
The data from the Office for National Statistics, which uses a three-year average - was presented to the panel by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer and Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, who have been lobbying Whitehall for more funding to recognise the issue and to ensure both visitors and the settled population remain safe.
The force has noticed a rise in calls for service in recent years during the summer months, the panel, made up of councillors from around Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, was told.
On July 7, 2018, for example, it received 1,128 emergency 999 calls – around double the daily average of calls it receives.
PCC Alison Hernandez said: “It’s fantastic that our tourism sector has enjoyed such incredible success in recent years. With its incredible coastline, stunning countryside and outstanding hospitality sector it’s no wonder people want to visit us.
“The figures show that the rise in our population begins in April and runs on until October – it’s no longer confined to the school summer holidays.
“I want the Government to recognise that we are not funded to police this additional population adequately. Locally we’ve done our bit and our taxpayers have helped to fund a rise of 176 more officers since 2016, now we want a fair deal so that we can secure our place as one of the safest places in the country to live and to visit.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is applying to the Home Office for a Special Grant to recognise the unique attributes of the Devon & Cornwall force area.
More information is available on our website.
Bereaved mums tell their stories at Drugs Harm Reduction Seminar
Mothers told their harrowing stories of losing their children to addiction at the first Drugs Harm Reduction Seminar organised by Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez.
The event at the Riviera International Centre in Torquay today was attended by experts in offender management, homelessness, addiction treatment and policing from around Devon and Cornwall.
Speakers included Christine Evans, a mum from South Devon whose son Jake was an A grade student attending Exeter University before he became addicted to heroin. Jake ended up dying in Thailand of an accidental overdose. Christine now tells his story to discourage others from using drugs.
Elizabeth Burton-Phillips MBE then took to the floor to explain how her twin sons’ recreational use of cannabis developed into a heroin addiction which saw them both become homeless. Tragically one of the twins, Nick, took his own life while in the grip of addiction, while his brother was able to kick drugs to lead a regular life.
Now a government advisor and campaigner, she founded the charity DrugFAM with the aim of supporting families whose members have become addicts and her book, “Mum, can you lend me £20?” has sold 65,000 copies worldwide and been translated into five languages.
Their message to the audience was that drugs were equal opportunities killers – and even those with bright futures could have their lives ruined and even ended by them.
Find out more >
Working together to make Devon and Cornwall’s roads safer
Road safety experts from around the country have come together to discuss ways of reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on Devon and Cornwall’s roads.
The Peninsula Road Safety Meeting at St Mellion has been organised by the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and the Director of Public Health for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The latest figures show that 58 people were killed in the Devon and Cornwall Police force area in the 12 months to March 2019 and there were 837 serious casualties.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez is the national lead for roads policing for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.
Last year she commissioned a new Road Safety Strategy which embraced a “spirit of shared responsibility” between organisations and recommended a deeper “partnership problem-solving approach”.
The meeting heard from Kevin Brown, of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, which deployed a number of innovative approaches to enforcement that have gone hand in hand with a noticeable reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on Essex’s roads. Partners in Essex have signed up to a “Vision Zero” strategy in recognition that a single road death is one too many.
Read more >
How you can become a part of the country’s largest crime prevention movement
Read Alison's latest blog about neighbourhood watch and how you can help your community by being part of this amazing crime prevention movement.
Read more >
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