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Police chiefs to ask for millions for 'busiest summer ever'

police chiefs

Published by Emma Carton at 7:25am 4th April 2019. (Updated at 1:52pm 4th April 2019)

By Local Democracy Reporter, Daniel Clark

Police chiefs are asking for millions of pounds extra cash to deal with 'the busiest summer ever', with the anticipated rise in visitors to Devon and Cornwall because of Brexit.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez and Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer are in talks with the Home Office after writing to Policing Minster Nick Hurd as the rising influx of visitors is having an unsustainable impact on day-to-day services.

They pointed out that the force is only funded to manage the 1.7m residents of the two counties, but not the extra 11 million tourists to Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly each year, with research showing road traffic collisions, calls to police, and arrests rise sharply in the summer.

alison hernandez
Devon and Cornwall police chiefs ask for millions of pounds to cope with the 'busiest summer ever' after Brexit

The PCC and the Chief Constable are asking for the Government to issue a special grant to address the summer policing challenge and to recognise the force’s general underfunding.

The special grant fund helps police forces deal with 'unexpected or exceptional' events within their area, with the anticipated spike in visitors following Brexit uncertainty is considered exceptional.

No figure as to how much the force would ask for has yet been decided, but Ms Hernandez revealed it would be 'a fair few million', and while the cash this summer would be a one-off, they hope it will be a precurser to a fairer funding settlement in future to recognise the summer influx of tourists.

"Uncertainty over Brexit has already been credited for bringing more tourists to our part of the world and everything indicates that we are in for an exceptional busy summer.

"That's good news for our economy, but presents us with a policing challenge which I am pleased the Government seems to be open to discussing.

"We love our visitors but we don't want our community, who fund 41% of the police force, to be paying for them so much, so we want more fairness.

"The resources we have are not getting spent on local people, and that is fundamentally the challenge".

Alison Hernandez

She added since the Brexit referendum, there has already been an increase in visitors to the area, and they are expecting more visitors than usual coming their way this summer with uncertainty over any Brexit outcomes.

Shaun Sawyer - Devon and Cornwall Police
Our Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable have written to the government, demanding fairer funding

"During the summer we potentially have issues where someone from Manchester commits an offence against somewhere from London here and they both go home, but we still have the crime and we hold that for the months afterwards.

"We are not saying we don’t have the visitors to come as it brings billions to the economy, but the point is that makes billions for the treasury but it doesn’t come back to soften the blow on the tax payer".

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

He said that Devon and Cornwall police already receives an average of 49p per person per day funding, well below the national average of 57p, and that discounts the national population swelling in the summer months:

"Summer policing is a massive challenge to all of my officers, staff and volunteers across the force area, as despite the recent investments by the PCC, Government, and support for local taxpayers, we now police greater complexity and demand with 1,000 fewer officers and staff than in 2010.

"Our population swells from 1.7m people to upwards of 11m at the height of summer, and this is something that we currently receive no extra funding or resources from central government for.

"It is not felt just by us but our partners in public service and the NHS.

"It cannot be right that our funding does not reflect the increased demand on frontline policing which is financed by local taxpayers. Neither does it reflect the associated increase in threat, risk and harm which the force has to manage within a resource base designed for 1.7m people.

"There was a time with 1,000 colleagues more when we could better serve our own communities but also surge capacity to cover the summer period. That is no longer possible.

"While I accept that summer policing is an integral part of our economy and local culture which warmly welcomes the visitors, the impact on our day-to-day services is unsustainable".

shaun sawyer
The Chief Constable says the force is only funded to cope with residents, not the 11 million tourists who arrive every summer

Chief Constable Sawyer said that the visitor numbers begin to increase from the May half-term onwards until late September, adding that this spike was not something like the Notting Hall Carnival which lasts from three days, but that lasts for four or five months and so needs to be factored into the base budget that the force receives from Government:

"The particular demands of the peninsula are not considered within our funding formula and settlement. It is unfair and I have yet to receive any letter from the Home Office which explains or justifies the inequality".

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

Ms Hernandez added that 999 and 101 calls, crime demands, incident demands and missing person demands rise during the summer, and the policing demand has become a welfare issue for staff.

"It has almost become a no-go area for annual leave over the summer for the police, and that's not fair, as they have families as well.

"This is a big challenge as it becoming a welfare issue and with the reduction in police numbers over the past 10 years, it has exacerbated the issue, and that's why summer policing become such a priority for us to try and resolve and highlight the challenge the force has been suffering for decades.

"Our ultimate aim is to get more long term cash, but this is a short term opportunity to build up the evidence and get some one-off funding".

Alison Hernandez

police
Officials say the force has 1,000 fewer officers and the ultimate aim is to get more long-term cash for Cornwall and Devon

In a letter to the PCC, Mr Hurd has suggested that he is open to discussing options about the summer policing challenge.

A business case for the special grant fund in being worked up by the police force and is due to be submitted in June, with a decision to be reached by the Autumn.

No specific details as to how the 'fair few million' the force is set to ask for would be spent have yet been finalised.

What is the demand like in the summer?

Emergency Demand:

On average the force receives 619 emergency 999 calls a day, but that can rise by 24% in the summer. July 2018 saw 737 calls a day, compared to 548 in January 2019.

101 Demand:

On average the force receives 1,730 non emergency calls a day, but that rises 22% in the summer. July 2018 saw 2,169 calls a day compared to 1,404 in December 2018

Crime Demand:

An average of 292 crimes and recorded and investigated daily, but seasonal demand in the summer sees this rise 13%. In July 2018, crime volumes were an average of 322 per day, while January 2018 saw 266 crimes a day. Domestic violence rises by 15% in the summer and violence against people rise by 18% compared to an average month

Incident Demand:

Police respond to 796 incidents per day, but in the summer, that can rise by 15%. In the peak summer months in 2018, an average of 910 incidents a day where responded to, compared to 730 in January 2019.

Missing People Demand:

On average, police respond and search for 25 missing people per day, but that can rise by 19% in the summer. An average of 31 missing people daily were searched for during the peak summer months in 2018.

Watch the full interview with PCC Alison Hernandez and Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer...

Police chiefs interviewed about fairer funding and 'busiest ever summer'. Video: Local Democracy Reporter, Daniel Clark

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