Devon’s police commissioner’s plans for 2021
As Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime commissioner launches a survey, inviting residents to help set her priorities for 2021/2, Alison Hernandez reflects on the issues facing the region.
“As people will be aware, I have increased the council tax precept over the past few years. We don’t know if we’re going to get flexibilities this year to actually be able to go beyond the 1.9 % so for me I want to ensure that I get a public feeling about what they think about the services at the moment so I know what I can do in terms of securing them for the future.”
Do you get the same old messages? The want to see bobbies on the beats, open police stations, that kind of thing? And yure not able to deliver what people want?
“Absolutely. That is all people talk to me about, it’s all people want and I think that’s why we’ve been charging them more in their council tax. I fundamentally knew that there was support there from the public about paying a bit more. We have got 126 extra officers since they’ve been paying more in their council tax and we’ve got another 141 from the government that we’ve just recruited as well. So, we’re on the go, on the uplift, and that’s what people want to see. Getting them visible is another matter and a bit of a challenge because there’s so many competing priorities for policing today. I think the reality is as well that most of the time our front line are dealing with non crim related matters – so missing people, suicides, all sorts of things that are not actually crimes.”
“One of the things that’s happened nationally is that there’s been an increase in serous violence across the country – one of our challenges here in Devon and Cornwall is that we have inherent violence so this is violence that doesn’t go away. This isn’t about people coming in from outside, this is about ourselves and we’ve got a programme of work that I’m jointly working with the chief constable on. One million pounds worth of money a year into looking at how we can prevent serious violence in our communities. Not reduce, prevent it happening. We’ve just had a meeting to discuss some of those things and we were puting in place in South Devon something called ‘turning corners’ which is a gang related serious violence project that will be starting very soon – which were very excited about. That’s something that we got government funding for last year – and we want to continue with it.”
This is Devon and Cornwall – do we really have an impact with this serious stuff?
“We do, funnily enough we’re the lowest crime rate area in the country. We were number one a few months ago, we’re number two now. We have a low crime rate but that doesn’t mean that crime isn’t happening to people – and that doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously. serious violence is on the increase nationally, and the way that we record it now has changed as well. We individually record every offence, rather that the most serious one. And I think we need to make sure that we understand what the problem is in our communities to tackle it.”
Why is road and traffic policing important?
“Since I’ve been in this position, I’ve had nothing but correspondence from members of the public, there are a number of things that they will always repeat – speeding through their towns, inconsiderate parking. They are concerned about deaths on our road, and the serious injuries that occur. I can’t escape it. It’s about time I thought somebody stepped up and said, how can I help across the whole peninsula to make a difference here. So, I took the lead for road safety nationally and we’ve come a long way in the last few years. In fact, we’ve established last year the peninsula vision 0 partnership which is with elected members across Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth and Torbay and they were all absolutely committed to 0 deaths on our roads within the next 20 years.”
To take part in the survey, and to find out more, click HERE