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Bid for more police funding in the south-west

Bid for more police funding in the south-west

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 29th September 2019. (Updated at 7:37am 29th September 2019)

A bid for millions of pounds of additional police funding, to help Cornwall and Devon cope with the summer influx of visitors, has been handed in to the Home Office.

The Devon and Cornwall force is the largest in England and receives more tourists than any other force outside London, yet has one of the lowest police officer densities in the country.

Visitor numbers have boomed in recent years which officials claim is down to the popularity of resorts and a low pound.

While tourists bring prosperity to the two counties and islands that make up the force area, there is no direct revenue from this to fund police, who feel the strain of the 'summer surge'.

Bosses say that Devon and Cornwall officers and staff struggle to cope with an 11% rise in crime in the months between April and September, a 14% rise in incidents and an 18% increase in missing people.

Now a 'Special Grant' has been requested to help the situation.

The Home Office Special Grant fund comprises of £73m which is 'top-sliced' from police forces and then used to deal with exceptional or unusual circumstances. Last year it was used to help Wiltshire Police cope with the Salisbury novichok nerve agent poisoning.

The bid details £17.9 of expenditure over three years that is linked to the 'summer surge' and requests compensation for this.

police car

"We have invested heavily in services like the rural crime team and innovated by collaborating with other emergency services to create new roles to help the force cope with unprecedented levels of calls for service over the past three years.

"The increase in activity is no longer confined to the school summer holidays, we've shown that it begins in April and lasts right through to September, but the impact on our people and the communities they serve is year-round because training and leave have to be taken in the remaining six months.

"The force has to deal with this additional challenge of a peninsula that is isolated from others, with just 10% of it is within six miles of another force area, and it's predominantly rural, so our resources and spread thinly.

"Devon and Cornwall are stunning places to visit but we're not free from crime. In recent months two huge cocaine hauls were detected off our coast, the force has disrupted county lines drug dealing schemes and a serious and organised people smuggling operation.

"Our communities deserve consistently good service from the force this bid is all about us being able to keep them, and our visitors, safe."

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner

Police

MPs from across the south west were united on Thursday to see policing minister Kit Malthouse accept Devon and Cornwall's bid for additional funding to help police deal with the impact of millions of summer visitors.

Alison Hernandez headed to Westminster with a delegation of councillors, MPs and police representatives from across the force area to hand the bid in.

Among those travelling to the capital was Inspector Andy Berry, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation. He said the impact on summer leave created a challenge for officers.

"Time spent with one's family is precious and officers find it particularly tough when they are refused leave during the summer period.

"This not only serves to erode their morale but also increases their stress levels due the persistent high levels of work pressure over the summer period."

Andy Berry, Devon and Cornwall Police Federation

police tape 3

MP for Truro and Falmouth, Sarah Newton, was also among the delegation. She says there is "no doubt" our officers are stretched.

"I am pleased to have met with our PCC Alison Hernandez and the Police Minister, Kit Malthouse, today to make the case for additional funding for Devon & Cornwall Police to support our officers to do their essential work. 

"There is no doubt that our police are stretched during the months when we welcome the many visitors who love to visit our region and this additional funding with help."

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth

She was also joined by MP for St Austell and Newquay, Steve Double, and also Sheryll Murray, the MP for south east Cornwall.

“Fair funding for Cornwall is something I have always supported in all areas. I am obviously delighted that we will be benefiting from the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of 20,000 new police officers. However there is a particular and historic problem in Cornwall with funding for our police not reflecting the massive population increases we see in the summer, and the corresponding strains on our infrastructure and services that this puts on us.”

“That is why I am pleased to be supporting Alison and the delegation in making this sensible case for change.”

“I hope the Home Secretary listens and acts accordingly and I will continue to work with my Cornish MP colleagues and local and national bodies to ensure Cornwall does not lose out in this or any other area.”

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay

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