Tavistock community day - Tony's blog
Commissioner's visit to Tavistock was full of variety and contrasts.
My visit started by meeting the Mayor of Tavistock, Councillor Harry Smith. I explained the current state of policing in Devon and Cornwall and some of the pressures expected in the future. The Mayor raised the issue about the quality of the 101 non-emergency telephone service. I explained the actions taken by my office and the expectation of improvement over the next year. I also met Councillor Anne Johnson who reminded me of the excellent work of the Dartmoor rescue centre. I was able to confirm that their headquarters, which is in the police building, would continue to be let at a peppercorn rent.
I then met with local Street Pastors and re-emphasised my support for the incredible job that they do. I had already spent much time with Street Pastors across this policing area so have first hand knowledge of their work. Quite apart from the emotional support they offer, the work often defuses an otherwise worsening situation and thus reduces the risk of later harm and also the demands on policing.
I then moved to the Tavistock area children’s centre which is provided by the Barnardos charity and funded by the local authority. I met with the staff of this centre who are mainly concerned with reducing the threat of domestic violence; each of the team carried a caseload of about 20 cases. I found this an inspirational discussion, led by the team manager, Abby Sproats.
The main point for me was that this is a team very clear on the local threats from this largely hidden crime of domestic violence. They had developed their ‘pattern changing’ courses to aid recovery for those who had survived a controlling relationship. We spoke of the particular risks associated with rural isolation.
I then spent several hours with the local policing team. Much of this was with Sgt Dave Anning discussing community policing in the Tavistock area. I also met with PCSO Rob Walsh and visited Bere Alston. It was very good to meet Superintendent Special Constable Simon Dell in the town. He has spent many years in Tavistock and it has earned the respect of so many people in the community. I found policing in Tavistock to be deeply committed, highly motivated and well led.
In Bere Alston we visited ‘The Hut’, one of two youth projects managed by Vicki Lloyd. I was immensely impressed by the art projects I saw where young people who might otherwise be spreading anti-social graffiti in the village were channelling their efforts into art that could then be shown in galleries.
I also visited the impressive Tavistock Youth Café, a brand-new converted industrial unit where the community had come together to provide an inspiring centre for young people to meet and hang out together. I was made aware how many businesses and individuals in Tavistock had provided materials free of charge. There will be an official opening on 1st May.
All in all a great day in Tavistock, and I look forward to returning soon