Alison Hernandez at the Torquay CCTV control room
One of my earlier projects involved setting up CCTV hubs around Devon and Cornwall, with professional round-the-clock monitoring and state-of-the-art cameras so police could respond to incidents in real time and evidence was compelling. This was a game changer when it came to preventing crime or searching for vulnerable missing people.
Over the past few years these systems have been added to and improved, with money from the Government’s Safer Streets fund one of the sources of funding used. The cameras, and the teams behind them, have helped police and the wider criminal justice system put some dangerous people behind bars.
Since 2021 when it was launched as a response to concern about violence towards women and girls Devon and Cornwall communities have benefitted from four rounds of Safer Streets funding. A fifth was announced last week, bringing the total amount made available to our communities to £5.6m.
As well as supporting CCTV, Safer Streets monies have been used to fund street marshals, places of safety for people who are out in our city centres and numerous other initiatives to make our towns and cities better places.
Plymouth, Exeter, Truro, Torquay and Barnstaple have benefitted from the scheme. My team and I decided to put forward two applications for round five, Paignton in South Devon will receive £545,000 and a joint application for Cornish towns of Camborne and Redruth will see them benefit from £454,000 of investment in community safety measures. A further £527,000 of match funding has been identified.
The money will be spent throughout the rest of the 2023-24 financial year and throughout 2024-25 on a range of interventions to reduce crime and disorder, with police, councils, businesses and community groups all involved in the work. Both bid areas will benefit from investments including in-community engagement and education, CCTV improvements, upgrades to street lighting and additional staff appointed to focus on ASB.
In Paignton a town centre officer will provide a visible presence within the area and will challenge antisocial behaviour and crime, gather intelligence and share this with partner agencies, including the police.
Police in Paignton, who have made great strides in recent months in terms of improving community engagement, will launch Project Vigilant – a proven method of targeting perpetrators of violence against women and girls.
Camborne and Redruth will also be allocated an antisocial behaviour case worker to work with perpetrators and the police. They will also seek to look after people’s welfare and signpost vulnerable individuals to relevant support services.
I am delighted communities in Paignton, Camborne and Redruth are now going to receive the attention they deserve. These vibrant and close-knit communities have relatively low recorded crime rates but they do face some challenges, particularly relating to antisocial behaviour. No one should live in fear of crime and I look forward to working with partners on implementing some practical and hard-hitting solutions over the next year and a half.
One of the ways we can all help police and other agencies tackle feelings of danger in our communities is by using the Home Office reporting tool StreetSafe. This is a service that allows you to report safety concerns in public places anonymously. This includes issues like poorly lit streets, abandoned buildings or vandalism, as well as instances where you feel unsafe due to someone following or verbally abusing you. Visit https://www.police.uk/pu/notices/streetsafe/street-safe/.