A new Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) has started work in Ilfracombe with the specific remit of policing the town’s harbour.
PCSO Andy Bailey has been appointed to the new dedicated role as part of a 12-month pilot project, the first of its kind in Devon and Cornwall.
The post has been jointly funded by North Devon Council, who own and operate Ilfracombe Harbour, and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which has provided money through its Bluelight Fund which aims to promote innovative new ways to providing policing support.
During the summer tourist season, when Ilfracombe’s population swells, the harbour sees a rise in antisocial behaviour (ASB) including street drinking and people jumping into hazardous areas of the sea, known as tombstoning.
The Maritime PCSO, who will be located at Ilfracombe Harbour Master’s Office, will work as part of the Neighbourhood Policing Team to provide an important, visible presence for the Harbour and to help prevent incidents of ASB.
PCSO Bailey said: “I’ll be working with the Harbour Authority, the Harbour Master, Devon and Cornwall Police and hopefully in conjunction with the community to make the harbour a safe place for both locals and visitors alike.”
Ilfracombe Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat MBE, who is employed by North Devon Council, said: “PCSO Bailey has already been here for a few weeks and has been getting to know the local shop owners and members of the community.
“Having a visual policing presence of police authority here that has a direct link to the local police has never been done so we’re really looking forward to the benefits this will bring.
“On behalf of the North Devon Harbour Authority I am delighted to welcome the new Maritime PCSO to the harbour team.”
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Trialling new ways to create a uniformed presence in some of our remote rural and coastal locations is precisely why I created the Bluelight Fund some years ago, thanks to our council taxpayers.
“We are already expanding our Tri-Service Safety Officers in Cornwall and Firefighter/Specials in South Devon, so this latest innovation in North Devon feels like an obvious progression.
“This is a new opportunity to tackle antisocial behaviour, which can have a hugely detrimental effect on entire communities. That is why I have made ASB one of just four priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.
“Working in partnership is the only solution to solving ASB in the long term, which is why I was so keen to work with Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat to pilot this Maritime PCSO post.
“As well as addressing ASB, Maritime PCSO Bailey will also be able to help locals and visitors enjoy a safe experience in what is a truly beautiful part of the South West.”
North Devon Council’s Harbour Board Chair, Councillor Geoffrey Fowler, added: “I’m delighted to have this extra support from the police.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming lots of visitors over the summer months and we want everyone to be able to enjoy the harbour safely and we don’t want the odd few people spoiling it for others.”