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Police and Crime panel backs plan to invest in more officers for Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

The Police and Crime Panel for Devon and Cornwall has today approved a budget that will enable the recruitment of dozens more constables.

The investment proposed by Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez will allow the Chief Constable to take on an additional 85 officers.

The renewed recruitment drive would bring force strength to 3,100 by the end of 2020, the highest level since 2012 and 186 officers higher than when Alison became Police and Crime Commissioner in 2016.

In total around 660 officers will have been recruited over four years to make up for those leaving the force.

The Chief Constable has indicated that the uplift would allow him to create an additional beat officer for each of the 27 sectors in the force area, increase detectives by 30 to address serious offending and increase the number of officers in frontline response teams.

The budget will see the police precept for households in Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly increase by 41p a week for a band C property in the 2019-20 financial year, with the total cost per household rising from £167.36 to 188.69.

This year a poll of more than 4,546 people indicated there was support for the additional investment if it was invested in front-line officers, but the percentage of those supportive of the measure (54%) was significantly lower than the 71% of those who supported a similar proposal last year.

The proposed rise in the precept would raise an additional £15.2m for Devon and Cornwall Police (when surpluses and tax base increases are taken into account), with much of that increase going towards funding a deficit in the police pension fund and meeting rising operational costs.

It will be coupled with a renewed emphasis on achieving back-office efficiencies.

Alison said: “I am pleased that the police and crime panel has listened to the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, understood the challenges facing police and backed this budget. We are fortunate to live in one of the safest parts of the country and I want to keep it that way. It’s clear to me and the communities I speak to that part of the solution to that is recruiting more officers.

“Devon and Cornwall Police are dealing with an increase in recorded crime of 10%* and calls for assistance from police officers is rising.

“In addition there are a range of new threats from which we are not immune. Excellent work takes place every day of the week in counter terrorism – for example, there are currently 39 cases in in Devon and Cornwall where a potential threat has been identified and is being mitigated.

“With the increase in investment last year we were able to speed up force recruitment, introduce Body Worn Video and invest in innovative Blue Light officers who are now working across Devon and Cornwall.

“I am recommending a further investment in our force but do not do that lightly, this year people from some of our communities are less supportive of this approach than they were a year ago and I have heard those concerns.”

*Office of National Statistics - Recorded crime year to September 30, 2018