Cllr says town has a drug problem
Cllr Gordon Hook, Devon County Councillor for Newton Abbot South, has written to the chief of police in the town, Inspector Nigel Yelland, calling for more funding to be allocated to the town.
Cllr Hook has said the current level of policing leaves residents ‘dangerously exposed with totally inadequate cover at many times of the day and night’, and that in the light of the local drug problems which generates so much of the theft locally, and the proposed population explosion in the town, extra funding and officers are desperately needed.
Recorded crime figures from October 2017 to September 2018, compared to the previous 12 months, showed that recorded crime in Newton Abbot rose 3.5 per cent, year-on-year.
Cllr Hook said: “To say the police numbers are stretched is a major understatement. We are left dangerously exposed with totally inadequate cover at many times of the day and night.”
He added: “I am getting an increasing number of residents contacting me regarding anti-social behaviour and acts of criminality. “It is nothing like gold bullions being taken or the Great Train Robbery, and these may not all be major crimes, I accept. But many, if not most, are in my opinion the product of drug trafficking, but they are causing increasing social unrest and disenchantment.”
He added: “I support the police 100 per cent and I recognise that they, like councils, are struggling under the weight of poor funding and reduced circumstances and I similarly acknowledge that there is no “magic money tree” to fund all that you and I might wish for.
“However, I must make the strongest plea for increased funding for Newton Abbot, which I believe to be significantly and dangerously underfunded. The town is already growing with a huge increase in the population already underway. Housing numbers and therefore the population of the area are steadily increasing and set to grow steadily over the next four or five years.
“This growth presents problems for us all, but a strong and reliable and responsive police force, protecting residents from and detecting crime in all its many forms is the highest priority for the vast majority of my residents.
“We all know the necessity of providing infrastructure for the house building explosion which we are suffering and normally think of roads, schools, shops, surgeries and so on, but the blue light services are put under additional pressure with additional residents, so must be funded accordingly.
“I make the strongest plea for increased investment in Newton Abbot policing. We urgently need more police and more support services for them. I believe it is of critical importance to finance our police in such a way that they can do the job properly. I do not believe that is currently the case.”
He added that he would also urge people to report all the crimes they are aware of to the police so they can build up a picture and a pattern of crime in the area.
His comments come as a motion was submitted to Devon County Council last week calling for more funding to be allocated to the police.
Cllr Yvonne Atkinson’s motion, which was referred to the cabinet for discussion, said: “Steep budget reductions and a widening mission for the police has forced Devon and Cornwall Police to make the difficult decision to cut budgets for local policing.
“The National Audit Office assesses the government did not fully understand the actual impact of these cuts on police forces such that policing is at the tipping point. This Council calls on the government and local MPs to ensure that the anticipated review of police funding agrees a fair funding formula for police forces that ensures an increase in funding for Devon and Cornwall Police which does not pass funding increases on through council tax beyond the current permitted up to two per cent annual increase in the police precept.”
Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, also hit out at falling police numbers, saying that Devon and Cornwall has lost the equivalent of one police officer every single week for the last 10 years.
He said: “The policing budget has been cut and the burden is falling to local residents to do and engage more. But when they do, the example of the difficulty in getting Speedwatch off the ground in Exminster has been so enormous, that they cannot be bothered to carry on. The Government needs to man up and adequately fund the police in Devon and Cornwall.”