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The cuts to neighbourhood policing in Cornwall and Devon

police officer

10:50am 1st February 2018
(Updated 10:50am 1st February 2018)

The extent of cuts to neighbourhood policing across Devon and Cornwall has been revealed.

According to figures obtained by the BBC, the number of local officers here has dropped almost 60 percent in the past five years.

That is 320 fewer bobbies on the beat in the South West and is one of the biggest drops in the country.

Nationally, the statistics show that of the almost 11,000 police officer jobs axed in England and Wales, some 1,500 were neighbourhood policing posts - that is around 14%.

Janice Adam from the force's Police Federation says they have been cut too far.

She told Pirate FM: "I think in neighbourhood policing that is a big hit, I think that will affect our ability to perhaps gain some of that community intelligence, to provide that link to communities, but I think in the longer term we could we communities fracturing because of that lack of neighbourhood policing.

"Budgets have been cut, officer numbers have been cut, at the same time that demand is rising in different areas that we have to look after, around vulnerable people, modern slavery, cybercrime on the internet. The demands have increased yet our numbers have been cut, so there has to be give somewhere."

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Colwell said: "There is no doubt policing numbers have seen a reduction in the last six years across many areas of the force.

"Supporting local communities with a visible neighbourhood policing presence remains critically important and a bedrock of policing in Devon and Cornwall.

"While the figures released may show a reduction in the number of dedicated neighbourhood staff, they do not demonstrate the number of wider police roles visible in our communities.

"Neighbourhood policing is part of every police officer and PCSO's business, so also includes response officers, local investigation staff and other operational officers who are not reflected in these figures."

ACC Colwell added: "The way in which we police our communities is evolving and officer's roles and responsibilities need to change with this.

"As a force we are constantly assessing threat, harm and risk to our local communities and flexing our policing resources to meet these challenges and demands.

"We have been very honest and open with the public while making these changes and having to place greater resources in areas hidden from public view - such as child sexual exploitation and other online crime.

"Indeed, overall policing numbers in Devon and Cornwall are set to increase in the coming year to give an increased frontline presence across the entire force area.

"Within this is a firm commitment between ourselves and the Police and Crime Commissioner to maintain a dedicated neighbourhood policing model.

"Supporting communities and providing a visible, sustainable and connected policing presence across the force area remains our clear focus."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The independent Office for National Statistics is clear that overall traditional crime is continuing to fall, and is now down by almost 40 per cent since 2010, while fraud and computer misuse - the most commonly experienced crime - has reduced by 15% in the past year.

"We know the nature of crime is changing, and we've spoken to every police force in the country to understand the demands they are facing.

"In December, we set out a comprehensive settlement to strengthen local and national policing, which will mean police funding will increase by up to £450 million next year.

"We are clear that effective local policing needs to be about more than just visibility in isolation. With crime increasingly taking place behind closed doors and online it is also about safeguarding vulnerable groups or individuals and giving the police the powers they need to deal with emerging and hidden crimes."

10:50am 1st February 2018

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