Alison Hernandez says the Westcountry force is put under additional strain because the two counties host more domestic visitors than any other force area.
The Special Grant Application is being finalised by staff at the PCC’s office. It contains detailed facts and figures that explain the additional pressures placed on officers and staff between April and September.
This ‘summer surge’ impacts staff and officer welfare and leads to a reduced service for the 1.7m residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly throughout the year, the PCC argues. This is because so much training and leave has to be compressed over the winter months to ensure adequate summer cover.
The PCC wants an additional £15m from the Home Office special grant fund – a pot of money set aside to reimburse police forces for exceptional events – to compensate it for money spent mitigating the extra calls for help.
Visitor numbers to Devon and Cornwall are such that it is equivalent to having a population of an additional 125,000 people that the force is not funded for. It is the largest force area in England yet receives 8p per head per day less funding than the England and Wales average, increasing to an 11p difference once visitor numbers are factored in.
Figures submitted to the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel in Plymouth today show that crime is 11% higher in July, August and September than the rest of the year – a value higher than for any other police force.
“Police officers and staff really feel the strain during the summer months because of the visitor numbers,” Alison said.
“The tourism sector is vitally important to the South West, and contributes at least £300m a year to the Treasury through VAT. This application is about trying to get some of that money back so we can help to keep visitors and our resident population safe.
“We have invested heavily in additional resources like a rural and wildlife crime team, collaborations with other blue light services and additional roads policing teams to help to cope with a rise in requests for help because of the summer surge.”
Alison will travel to Westminster on Thursday, September 26, to hand the application documents to Home Office officials. She will be joined by members of the Devon and Conrwall Police and Crime Panel - a cross party group of councillors from around the region - who have agreed to write a letter of support for the bid.
The summer surge:
- Devon and Cornwall force area has the second highest level of tourism in England & Wales behind London – 45 million nights
- The number of visitors is equivalent to a 7% increase on the base population of the force area - the highest in England & Wales – it equates to 125,000 extra people each day if spread across whole year
- The impact of that additional 125,000 people reduces force funding to just 46p per person per day compared to a national average of 57p
Summer lasts from April-September – in that period Devon and Cornwall Police sees:
- An 11% increase in crimes in summer months: largest in England & Wales
- A 14% increase in incidents, with significantly higher rates in some areas
- An 18% increase in high risk missing people