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WE ARE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES WITH SOME DOCUMENTS ON OUR WEBSITE. WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.

Spare a thought for emergency services as PC Rain takes a holiday

There is an old adage in policing that PC Rain is the best officer in the world at crime prevention.

Spare a thought for emergency services as PC Rain takes a holiday

For when the heavens open and the only thing worth going equipped with is a brolly as criminals seek shelter.

But it isn’t only crime that falls when it’s cold and damp outside; non-crime ‘incidents’ which often require considerable resources –  such as missing persons searches - also fall in number.

Unfortunately for Devon and Cornwall Police the reverse is true when the sun comes out, and because of our unique force area we are disproportionately affected.

Consider the train loads of young people who headed to Boardmasters last week. This music festival is a rite of passage that attracts more than 50,000 people to the Cornish coast each year. They, and anyone else who chose a Westcountry holiday instead of going abroad this year, must have thanked their lucky stars as we entered another heatwave at the weekend.

And with an increased population comes an increase in calls for help from our public services.

So, as we spare a thought for farmers who are struggling with drought-like conditions, we should also consider those who work within policing, firefighting and health.

Fire crews have been pleading with people to be more careful as they battle a record number of wildfires – many of them started by discarded cigarettes or disposable barbecues. Between Tuesday and Thursday last week (9th to 11th) Cornwall Fire Service sent vehicles out to 304 incidents. This compares with just 103 over the same period last year.

And police too are in demand.

Figures from the last few years show how much the holiday season impacts on the police service with 999 calls increasing by nearly 30%, with an average of 818 calls received each day. On top of that are, on average, 1,861 non emergency 101 calls and 349 e-contacts (messages sent via the website) with reports of 764 incidents per summer day.

This year the number of calls for service is even greater. The number of 999 calls is already frequently in excess of 1,000 a day with similarly high numbers of 101 calls.

I would like to thank anyone who has experienced delay in getting through to police for their patience and reassure them that because of the decision to raise the policing element of council tax, the force will be welcoming many new members of staff to our contact centres over the next few months.  They have taken a while to recruit and train as it is not a simple job by any means.

This does not include those who will be staffing the five police enquiry offices reopening across Devon and Cornwall in November. These staff will be answering non-emergency emails when not dealing face to face with the public so will be able to positively impact wait times.

The force is also introducing a new call back option for those using the 101 service.

But it’s not all about managing incoming calls. We also need the public to do their bit to ensure they are reaching out to the correct service in the first place, and in the right way.

If it’s a non-emergency matter, please contact police using the forms available online or consider using our WebChat facility to get updates. Both of these facilities are staffed by contact officers – so any issue will be dealt with by the same team – but using these channels will save you time and will also keep the lines clear for members of our communities who, for various reasons, cannot contact the force online or are distressed.

Finally, many calls the police receive are really more appropriately dealt with by other local agencies. Poor parking, fly tipping or noise are examples of issues that councils are sometimes better placed to help with and you can save yourself time by going straight to them. And if you are being pushed from pillar to post then please contact your locally elected councillor who can better understand the problem and liaise with the right services on your behalf.

With a bit of consideration and with the public by their side, the great staff in our contact centres will be able to get more help to those who really need it more quickly. And if you are interested in to be part of the solution and joining their ranks, recruitment is about to reopen for more of these invaluable staff.

Keep safe and enjoy the summer.

If you have been a victim of crime please report it to police, in an emergency call 999 or in a non emergency call 101, webchat or email the police via devon-cornwall.police.uk. Alternatively, to stay 100% anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.

Victims of Crime can get free expert advice 24 hours a day from Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111 or via victimsupport.org.uk.