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My plan to invest to protect our communities from the scourge of violent crime

Knife crime and how police and health services deal with severely mentally unwell people have dominated the headlines this week following the sentencing of Nottingham killer Valdo Calocane for the horrific killings of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates.

My plan to invest to protect our communities from the scourge of violent crime

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez at the new police station she opened in Exeter

Calocane’s sentencing came a day after Office of National Statistics data showed that nationally there had been a significant increase in the number of robberies involving a knife or sharp instrument.

The figures show that the Devon & Cornwall Police force area remained as having one of the lowest recorded crime rates in the country, with 58 crimes per 1,000 people in the year to September 2023 compared to a national average of 91. Crime was down 1.8% on the previous year in Devon and Cornwall.

I am, however, concerned about a rise in the possession of offensive weapons, even though it remains below the national average of one crime of this type per 1,000 people.

On Friday this week I will describe my plans to maintain Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as one of the safest places to live in the country when I present the draft budget for 2024-25 to our Police and Crime Panel. This panel is made up of members from around the force area and meets quarterly to scrutinise my decisions.

One of my key duties is to set the precept – the element of council tax which pays for policing. I am proposing to the Police and Crime Panel that this rise, for a band D property, by £12.96, to £274.50 a year. Most Devon and Cornwall households will pay less as most households in the area are bands A to C.

Once again, the revenue generated from this vital funding stream, and the element we receive from the Home Office, will be spent with our communities’ concerns at the fore as I represent the voice of the public in policing. You told me unequivocally that more investment in community officers is once again a priority for you, as are my police and crime plan priorities of tackling antisocial behaviour, dangerous driving, violence and drugs.

A higher percentage of you told me that ‘people carrying weapons’ was a concern this year and that is a message I have heard loud and clear.

Reducing violence is about so much more than policing and my role extends to working to reducing crime in the first place and tackling reoffending. Friday’s Police and Crime Panel meeting will also consider my annual Commissioning Intentions Plan. This describes how I intend to invest £9.6m in preventing crime, helping victims recover and supporting our frontline services.

More than £7m will go towards high quality services for victims of crime. In 2022-23 29,543 victims were referred to the support services I commissioned, of these 20,905 were victims of domestic abuse, a crime type which ranked as the fourth biggest community concern in my survey. Victim services supported 3,718 young people over the year.

These services are available to all victims of crime, whether or not crimes have been reported to police and whether they are recent or happened years ago. Evidence shows that when victims receive high quality services to help them get back on track they are more resilient and less likely to be a repeat victim, so these services reduce reoffending.

I know police need to be more accessible and accountable to those they serve and for that reason I will continue to invest in reopening police stations. So far I have reopened 13 around Devon and Cornwall, with five more locations to follow.

The work detailed in my plans for the next financial year is ambitious and far-reaching, but none of it would be possible without the support of our communities through their council tax contributions.

If you are interested in my spending plans please take a moment to review them on the Police and Crime Panel page hosted on the Plymouth City Council website. The meeting at which these plans will be discussed can be followed live from 10.30am on Friday morning or you are welcome to attend in person.