Picture shows PCSO Shaun Harvey with the Commissioner at Friday's event.
As Devon and Cornwall remains one of the police force areas in our country which has the lowest recorded crime rates (Crime figures | Devon and Cornwall Police (devon-cornwall.police.uk), there is no doubt that now we have secured funding from the government and our local council tax payers to achieve record numbers of police officers of 3610 by March this year, it’s time to turn our attention to the wider policing family that help keep us safe.
One of these roles is the Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) acting as the eyes and ears of the police that contributes to this.
On Friday (January 6, 2023) I attended with the Chief Constable his first public speaking event to witness a celebratory gathering held in honour of PCSOs.
The event was held at Bodmin Police Station - the policing Head Quarters for Cornwall and which is where Chief Constable Will Kerr OBE KPM will base himself regularly each week.
The PCSO ceremony saw 15 PCSOs receiving recognition of their service to policing as this year marks 20 years since their posts were created, with the first to join Devon and Cornwall in January 2003.
Three PCSOs, PCSO Darren England, PCSO Alison Relf and PCSO Peter Sobye joined 20 years to the day, so each received a Long Service Award and other PCSOs, Julia Berry, Wendy Christophers, Rebecca Di Quirico, Richard Hill, Jeremy Kewn, Anita Parry, Nicola Payne, Mark Richards, Andrew Sells, Andrew Tonkin and Graham Wade are set to join them on 20 years of service later this year.
The event provided a great opportunity to recognise the work carried out by four individual PCSOs who last year were nominated for National Awards. They were; PCSO Robert Bayly (Plymouth) for ‘Community Engagement’, PCSO Beverley Faull (Camborne) for ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity’, PCSO Shirley Graham (Isles of Scilly) for ‘Lifetime Achievement’ and PCSO Shaun Harvey (Camborne) for ‘Bravery’ and on listening to their achievements they were all extremely worthy of this nomination.
The role of the wider policing family has been neglected in recent years because the focus has been on recruiting police officers. However, I have funded a variety of roles that were national first here in Devon and Cornwall.
Last year my office jointly funded the first ever maritime PCSO, who operates in Ilfracombe harbour on a 12-month pilot scheme.
We’ve also trialled Police and Fire Community Support Officers along with Firefighter Specials, but the overall sustained trial has been Tri-Service Safety Officers in Cornwall.
However, PCSOs still have a place alongside our communities.
On Friday I heard of the great contribution from individuals like learning sign language to communicate through the Deaf Academy and shared my own experiences for example PCSO Hayley Widger from Axminster, the main driver in setting up a drug and alcohol treatment centre.
PCSO Laurence Gaywood from Torquay led on intelligence to secure a teenage boy to be reunited with his stolen trainers, a recent expensive birthday present.
There are many great stories which make me appreciative and know that the role is instrumental to our policing and public confidence.
Today, we have 156 PCSOs serving our communities and I am pleased that from January 30, 2023 recruitment will be open for more. Details can be found about the role and how to apply online: Devon & Cornwall PolicePCSO - Vital Members of our Police Family - Police Recruitment (recruitment-dcp-dp.org)
Last Friday morning there were other reasons to celebrate when 19 newly recruited police officers, joined by friends and family attended their passing out parade.
I wish each and every one of the new officers success as they go on to start their future career.
On Sunday we closed my annual budget survey in which I asked all members of the public to let me know where policing matters most to help me set next year’s policing budget and decide upon the council tax precept.
My team ran urban and rural focus groups in Launceston and Exeter. These were attended mostly by local councillor advocates, the idea being to gain an insight and understanding in to what members who represent our communities really think about policing priorities and to help spot any common issues or concerns.
They, along with the budget survey are a great way to hear from the public where money for local policing needs to be spent.
This month I will take my decision to the Police and Crime Panel meeting on January 27 and if you would like to watch that live you can do so via webcast here: Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel 25/11/22 - YouTube