Statistics released today (October 18) show that between July 2017 and June 2018 recorded crime was up 17% in the force area. Nationally there was an increase of 10%.
Much of the increase is due to improvements in the way that police in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly record crime. But Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said she was concerned about a rise in violent offences, although serious violent offences are still very unusual in the peninsula.
She said that in order to campaign for fairer funding for the region, and so resources could be used effectively, it was vital that all offences were logged.
The commissioner has supported a major recruitment drive for more officers, with 575 being trained by 2020 to offset retirees and increase force strength. Her office is also commissioning work to reduce reoffending.
“It’s clear to me that more money is needed to support greater officer numbers,” Alison said.
“My office is actively lobbying central government for fairer funding for a force which sees its population swell by millions of visitors in the summer months but is funded only for its settled population.
“Residents of Devon and Cornwall are certainly doing their bit to invest in policing. Engagement work carried out by my office earlier this year showed us they were prepared to pay more if they got more police officers, so I, like most other Police and Crime Commissioners, took the decision to raise our precept by £12. This money has been used to continue to enable us to buck the national trend of recruiting and training more officers as we have been doing since I arrived in office, as well as to invest in technology like body-worn video.
“We’re also coming up with innovative solutions to rural areas where tri-service officers have been recruited across Cornwall and Community Responders – on-call firefighters trained as Police Specials – will take up posts in Devon early next year.”
Rises in recorded crime are expected and even welcomed in certain areas, like sexual offences, where reporting levels have been historically low, because they indicate that victims have greater confidence that their complaints will be taken seriously.
“Recorded violent offences have increased by 31%, part of this is due to crime recording improvements and reporting, but there is an indication that there are some genuine increases, which is cause for concern,” she said.
“Although public order offences are up by 33%, this is most likely a reflection of more anti-social behaviour incidents being recorded as crimes.”
“Both Devon and Cornwall Police and my office are working with partners across the peninsula to help tackle these increases.
“My office has funded the Cornwall safer towns scheme to help ten Cornish towns reduce antisocial behaviour and has invested in CCTV projects across Devon and Cornwall.
“In Newton Abbot, for the first time, police officers used civil law injunctions to stop gangs from terrorising communities.
“We are also investing into a new pilot scheme to stop prisoners reoffending – so we are working together at all stages of the criminal justice system to make our communities safer.”
Alison said it was essential that people do report incidents, and have confidence that these will be logged and taken seriously.
“We face a number of challenges regarding central Government funding and a thorough understanding of the types of crime in the force area will help me to campaign for the resources we need for policing in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly,” she said.
“I’m not sure we have accurate data around crimes in town centres, rural areas and business crime in particular, and I would therefore urge the wider public to play their part in helping us by contacting the police about crime in their area.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has supported the setting up of alternative ways of reporting crime via the 101 non-emergency team.
People can now email the 101 team at email@example.com, report via the website https://services.devon-cornwall.police.uk/crimereporting/ or contact the 101 team via a live webchat service from the force website https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/.
All emergencies should be reported by calling 999.