Commissioner's newsletter

September 2018

There's been a definite autumnal feel in the air over the past few weeks and the summer heatwave feels like a distant memory with the crisp mornings we've been having.

As summer draws to a close so does our engagement season - I have thoroughly enjoyed getting out and about across Devon and Cornwall meeting so many people.

This week I met with the Chief Constable and our equivalents in Dorset to look in detail at the final business case and discuss the merger proposal.

We haven't come to a unanimous decision about whether we will submit the final business case to the Home Office.

I am minded not to support the proposal - I haven't yet been convinced that a merger is in the best interests for the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is why I will be taking the business case to the Police and Crime Panel for further discussion around my key concerns on Friday 5 October.

I need to be absolutely sure that a merger would create a stronger, more resilient police force to serve our communities and I look forward to hearing the views of the panel.

I would like to take this moment to thank everyone who completed the survey letting me know their views - I promised to find out what people thought and it really has formed a key part of my decision making.

Keep up to date with updates about the merger and other news from the office by following us on Twitter, Facebook or via our website.

Alison Hernandez

PCC backs calls to upgrade Spice to a class A drug

The Commissioner has added her support to calls for the drug Spice, and similar cannabinoids to be upgraded from class B to class A substances

A letter written by Lincolnshire’s PCC and co-signed by Police and Crime Commissioners from across the country highlights the growing public health concerns around synthetic cannabinoid substances and the additional pressures their use is putting on police.

Use of these substances has risen dramatically since 2014. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that from 1993-2014 there were three deaths linked to consumption of synthetic cannabinoids while between 2015 and 2017 there were 59.

Supporting the Lincolnshire PCC’s position, Alison Hernandez said: “We have seen a huge increase in the use of synthetic cannabinoid substances like Spice across Devon and Cornwall in recent years.

“It is becoming a growing concern for our communities – we’re not getting to the bottom of why people are taking these substances or giving them adequate support to get off them and in the meantime our police force, the NHS, our prisons and the public are having to deal with the consequences.

“We need to send a message that taking and dealing Spice is totally unacceptable.”

In his letter Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones writes: “As public health and substance misuse services are not currently taking the lead in meeting this growing challenge it is falling to the police to respond to public concerns of community safety, adding yet further to policing demand without addressing the underlying issues.

“It must be made clear to the public and young people in particular just how dangerous and serious the taking of Spice is and the current classification as B does not do that.”

More information is available on our website.

Latest News

Body worn video: a key piece of equipment for modern day policing

The next time you see a Devon and Cornwall Police officer they might well be wearing a new bit of kit which is transforming the way evidence is gathered.

"The Chief Constable and I have been looking closely at forces that are already using this technology and have seen that recordings can lead to early convictions and guilty pleas by providing indisputable evidence in court. This speeds up the criminal justice process, making it more efficient and effective for victims of crime." said Alison

The footage also provides greater transparency to the public by giving unbiased evidence in complaints against officers and helps support our frontline staff by capturing those who decide to assault them when they are out keeping us all safe.

Full story >

Devon and Cornwall’s CCTV innovation

Responsibility for provision of closed circuit television systems in town centres has long been a grey area. But, driven by the Police and Crime Commissioner, an alliance between local towns, Cornwall Fire and Rescue and Cornwall Council is finding unique solutions.

In her Police and Crime Plan Alison Hernandez pledged £200,000 to help seed fund CCTV systems in towns across Devon and Cornwall and support monitoring hubs like Cornwall Council’s Fire and Rescue HQ at Tolvaddon.

The PCC is working with the fire service and local authorities across Cornwall and Devon to develop the first integrated network of CCTV systems and control rooms across a whole policing region covering two counties.

Full story >

PCC welcomes efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse

Alison Hernandez has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to support his announcement that £21m of extra Government funding would be invested over the next year and a half to bolster the response of law enforcement agencies.

The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse estimates that 15% of girls and 5% of boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 16.

In Devon and Cornwall the number of victims of sexual offences under the age of 18 has more than doubled in five years from 994 in 2013/14 to 2,402 in 2017/18. There were 282 reports of crimes involving child sexual exploitation in the 12 months to March this year.

“If we can help people to recover, and at the same time let offenders know that they will be caught and dealt with, then I am confident that we can start to make some real progress in tackling this issue.” said Alison

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall set up and supports a Victim Care Network which helps those affected by crime access support services. Victims can contact the network on 01392 475900 or online at www.victimcare.org.uk.

Read more >

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