Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez reopens the front desk at Falmouth Police Station
Alison Hernandez’s project to create an additional 18 police enquiry offices (PEOs) around the force area has so far seen 13 open their doors to the public.
Today the Commissioner will tell a meeting of panel about her plan to accelerate this plan, reopening a further four in the next financial year.
A new PEO will open in Exeter city centre, at a location to be confirmed and in addition to that at the city’s Middlemoor Police Station. PEOs in Tavistock, Ivybridge and Liskeard will also be reopened. The projects were due to be delivered over two financial years but this has been compressed, with all four due to reopen before April next year.
The Commissioner said: “Connecting communities to the police force which serves them has been the underlying principle of my Police and Crime Plans, and the opening of 18 more police enquiry offices is one example of how I can deliver on that principle. Police Enquiry Offices are places of safety where the public can get help and advice and offer an alternative to the phone in terms of a method of contact.
“Working with local partners on this project has been very rewarding, and it has been hugely gratifying to see the impact this investment has made in our communities, whose contribution via taxation has made it all possible.”
The locations selected have been chosen using a rationale of public demand, financial feasibility, and operational policing necessity.
In this year’s Your Safety, Your Say survey 62% of respondents said they supported or strongly supported further investment in PEOs and 76% of respondents to a Devon & Cornwall Police survey agreed that accessible face-to-face contact via a police enquiry office increased confidence in local policing.
The first PEO to be reopened by the Commissioner was in Newquay in 2020. Tiverton, Newton Abbot, Truro, Falmouth, Penzance, Bude PEOs followed in 2021-22. Okehampton, Ilfracombe, Honiton, Kingsbridge, Devonport and Looe reopened in spring this year.
The final PEO delivered will be via the redevelopment of Exmouth Police Station, a £5m project which the Commissioner is seeking planning permission for.
The project to invest in police enquiry offices has been warmly received by residents.
Liskeard central councillor Nick Craker said: “Liskeard has called for this front desk to reopen for some time, it will mean a great deal to the Liskeard community and enable better links between the police and public."
The Commissioner’s proposed budget for 2024-25 includes a £12.96 (4.95%) rise in the precept paid by a band D property in the force area, taking band D precepts to £274.50 a year. The precept income, combined with an increase in the central government grant and savings of £5.4m, will maintain officer numbers in Devon & Cornwall Police at record high numbers of 3,610.
Her intentions to spend £9.6m on commissioning to help victims and maintain Devon and Cornwall as one of the safest police force areas in the country are laid out in the 2024-25 Commissioning Intentions Plan. This includes commissioning of Safer Streets projects and victim services, and partnership work to improve road safety. In 2022-23, the last year for which figures are available, almost 29,543 victims of crime were referred to support services commissioned by her.
The Police and Crime Panel which meets to scrutinise the Commissioner’s decisions is open to press and public and is due to start at 10.30am on Friday. Agenda, papers and links to follow the meeting online can be found here: Agenda for Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel on Friday 2 February 2024, 10.30 am - Modern Council (plymouth.gov.uk)