Devon and Cornwall police officer inexperience is challenging, chief says

The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police has said the force is battling inexperience among its ranks due to the number of new recruits.

Well, there’s a surprise. What does Alison Hernandez, police commissioner since May 2016, have to say?   – Owl

BBC News

Will Kerr

Devon and Cornwall Police chief constable Will Kerr said he wants to prioritise tackling basic crime

Will Kerr, who was sworn into the role in December, said the force had the highest number of officers it has ever had.

But he admitted this had brought “challenges”.

He also outlined a back to basics approach to policing to improve public confidence in the force.

It comes as a Freedom of Information request by the BBC found 54% of officers in Devon and Cornwall Police had three years of service or less.

Only 55% of response officers were qualified to drive with blue lights.

‘Time and effort’

Mr Kerr said: “It is a challenge and there’s no point trying to pretend it is otherwise.

“But, of course, when you’re significantly increasing the number of new recruits and new police officers coming in through the door… that takes a lot of time and effort and detailed training programmes.”

He said addressing the issue will become slightly easier “in a couple of years”.

Andy Berry, from the Police Federation, said inexperience was an important issue for Mr Kerr to tackle.

“For response officers, it’s absolutely essential that they can drive with blue lights – frankly, 54% isn’t enough,” he said.

Mr Kerr said he would be prioritising basic issues such as anti-social behaviour, drug-dealing and unsafe driving.

He said public confidence in the police “begins and ends” at a community level.

“What I’m keen to do is make sure we give those young cops and new police staff members the skills that they need to get out as quickly as possible in local communities,” he added.

2 thoughts on “Devon and Cornwall police officer inexperience is challenging, chief says

  1. This is, in my view, a tiny example of a widespread and massive disservice to the public, so I apologise in advance for digressing into something much much broader, but please try to follow my thinking here. From small acorns, massive oaks grow – but equally acorns come from massive oaks in the first place. So, make yourself comfortable and settle in for an uncomfortable explanation…

    Q: Whose fault was it that Police numbers dipped so low that they had to recruit more new officers than the experienced officers they already have?

    A: OURS. We voted in a party who makes decisions based on dogma and morally corrupt financial benefits without regard to the (often obvious) consequences. And why do we vote them in? Because many of us are gullible and believe the lies they spin. “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”? Baloney. They wanted to cut taxes for the already obscenely rich – their donors and friends – but they can only do this if they cut government spending also. One “easy” target (if you are not bothered by the consequences) was policing, so they cut funding and ended up losing c. 20,000 experienced officers. And now we are seeing the consequences in having 54% inexperienced police officers, and 45% response officers who … um … cannot properly respond i.e. blue lights and driving rapidly.

    This was wholly predictable. BROKEN BRITAIN is well and truly broken and it was the Conservatives – and only the Conservatives – that broke it. And they did that by governing through self-interest rather than in the interests of the voting public.

    Q: So why do we let them do this to us?

    A: Because of decades of manipulation. Drip feeding emotive half-truths through the media (many of whose owners benefit massively from Conservative policies – they are the obscenely rich elite that Conservative tax cuts benefit) over a period of years (or even decades). The Conservatives appeal to self-interest by stressing that they stand for opportunities for ordinary people to better themselves (like home ownership or becoming millionaires by owning shares, or by starting small businesses), but the reality is that they have done everything they can to makes all of these more difficult.

    How many younger people can now afford to own a house? Or think that they will ever be able to do so? I used to speak ask this of people I met and the answers were often “No” and “Never”.

    We were all encouraged to buy shares in privatisations because we would make money on them? But whatever profits we might have made by buying (and then selling) a few shares in utilities companies has been more than eaten up by the increases in prices that resulted (in order, for example, to pay hugely inflated salaries to the executives). At the same time privatised utilities are focused on increasing profits – which means increasing prices and cutting costs – costs such as finance costs for new infrastructure. They do NOT have any interest in ensuring that the population’s overall needs are met – ensuring sufficient capacity is not their remit. And as a consequence of Conservative privatisation dogma, that means that it is no longer anyone’s remit. The utility companies are focused on profits, the government says that (because utilities are private companies) it is no longer their remit either.

    So now we pay a lot more for electricity but yet are being warned that there may be planned electricity black-outs at peak times. The electricity system is broken – because the obvious consequences were ignored – and it is a direct result of Conservative privatisation dogma.

    Ditto for Gas. Because gas supply is now privatised (effectively a monopoly – you may buy gas from many (electricity) companies, but they need to source it from the sole UK mains gas distributor (British Gas) who charge whatever wholesale prices they like, so it is not really a competitive market, just a means for British Gas to rack up much greater profits. At the same time, because gas supply is no longer a Government responsibility, they closed and sold off the strategic gas storage facility that held gas reserves in the event of supply disruptions from the continent – just before disruption in the gas supply (from Russia) and a bitterly cold winter. The mains gas system is broken – and this is is a direct result of of Conservative privatisation dogma.

    Ditto for Water. There are water shortages because of no new investments in reservoirs to supply population growth, whilst sewerage is being discharged into rivers everywhere because of lack of investment in processing plants, and onto streets because the local sewerage pipes are not enlarged despite significant housebuilding. The water systems are broken – and that is also a direct consequence of Conservative privatisation dogma.

    I am also VERY sceptical about the benefits of privatisation to the public purse. If you look at how much money the government received from privatisation of a utility company, and then look at how much money has been paid out to shareholders and executives, I think that it is highly likely that the moneys paid out to shareholders and executives is significantly greater than the amount received by the government by privatisation. And logically this shouldn’t be a surprise – the institutional investors invested their money in order to make money, and they would only have invested if there was BIG money to be made (which implies weak regulation, but that is another story).

    But the bottom line is that if the government had just held onto the ownership itself and everything else had been done the same, the public purse would have been better off holding onto the utility companies rather than privatise them. If this is the case – I haven’t researched this – it debunks the entire concept of privatisation – making it pure dogma without any logic or rationale or benefit behind it.

    Q: What about the NHS then?

    A: Don’t believe the Conservatives when they say “The NHS is safe in our hands”. If you think their privatisation dogma on utilities is bad, their NHS dogma is 100x worse because it is driven by: A) a loathing of the fact that the NHS success story was created by … and you need to imagine here a facial expression of disgust … a Labour / socialist government; and B) the vision of tax cuts that could be given to the ultra rich if the government wasn’t “saddled” by the massive costs of the NHS. If you look at the real evidence – rather than believe Conservative propaganda – it is quite clear that the Conservative core leadership are determined to destroy the NHS, the only difficulty being how to achieve it without the population (who value and love the NHS) realising that this is being done deliberately.

    The factual evidence (from release of the minutes of Margaret Thatcher’s early Cabinet meetings) is now beyond dispute. The destruction of the NHS is a very long term plan of the Conservative Party dating back more than 40 years. The NHS is broken – and it is a deliberate act of sabotage by successive Conservative governments.


    The “internal market” (aka privatisation, introduced by the Conservatives) of the NHS used to be done (and I haven’t researched the current iteration – but I doubt it is much different) by 47 regional boards, each of which had a big staff, with many (highly paid) senior executives and many (highly paid) doctors and medical consultants acting as medical advisors, plus a lot of ordinary administrators. The ONLY purpose of these organisations was additional administrative overhead to put medical services out to tender, and issue contracts to private contractors if they could undercut the NHS internal departments – and this “competition” was biased by cherry picking (NHS departments have to do the whole range of services, private companies could cherry pick the most profitable one), by biasing the NHS costs (by including unreasonable accommodation costs into the NHS bids) etc. but most importantly by avoiding including the costs of this new administration into the calculations.

    “Unfortunately”, the costs of these administrative boards has never been totalled up – so we have no idea what the actual costs are. But the estimate is between £10BILLION and £30BILLION (yes BILLION, not MILLION) PER YEAR (yes PER YEAR). On pure administration that adds NOTHING to actual healthcare. If you put that cost into the mix there is literally ZERO chance of the NHS costs being better than privatised services. This is straightforward bias deliberately introduced to ensure that the NHS is privatised piece by piece by piece over a period of decades.

    But the biggest piece of evidence are these…

    Q: WHY have the costs of these 47 boards never been totalled up? Why do we have to estimate them? Totalling them up is a simple accounting exercise, an exercise that the (Conservative) government could do if they wanted to, and indeed one which any sensible, logical, rational government would do?

    A: The only possible answer is that this whole “internal market” is not a sensible, logical, rational decision, but is instead driven by Conservative anti-socialist fervour.

    Q: WHY have these costs not been pursued by the media, through FoI requests for example?

    A: It appears to me to be because the majority of the media are owned by people who benefit from Conservative tax cutting and so stand to benefit hugely from the privatisation of the NHS. They appear to be nothing more than propaganda outlets for the government.

    AND NOW WE TURN TO THE FINAL AREA OF BROKEN BRITAIN… the ever increasing poor…

    Q: Why are large proportions of the working population going on strike?

    A: Wealth distribution. This is another foundation / consequence of Conservative dogma.

    FACT (from the House of Commons library): In 1979 (when Maggie Thatcher came to power) the top 1% of “earners” in this country (i.e. the most wealthy, making money from other people’s efforts) had 5% of GDP. By 2016, in less than 40 years, this had become 15% of GDP i.e. it had increased by 3x. Or to put it another way, 99% of people had 95% of GDP and this went down to 85% of GDP a reduction of over 10%. In other words, in less than 40 years, there was wealth redistribution of over 10% from the majority of the population to the 1% elite.

    FACT: In the last 2-3 years alone, at the top of the ladder the number of Billionaires in the UK has increased by 20% from 147 to 177. At the same time, at the bottom of the ladder nurses, doctors, railway workers, civil servants, council workers and many others have had real-terms pay cuts for several years in a row, and many haven’t had a pay rise at all much less one that matched inflation, whilst most self employed people / small business owners have also fared badly during the pandemic.

    Some of this was undoubtedly due to the corrupt procurement of PPE during the pandemic. Some was due to the governments pandemic support being most advantageous for large businesses.

    But this is the purpose of Conservative governments. The Conservative Party is funded by a very few very rich people. There are several clearly documented, factual examples in recent years of how these handful of people actually define Conservative government policy. Look it up on google.

    If you look at this with open eyes, the evidence is by now indisputable. The Conservative government has Broken Britain and is continuing to do so. You cannot continue redistributing wealth to rich individuals (and to other countries) indefinitely without things breaking badly. You cannot continue to make ordinary people poorer without them eventually saying “enough is enough”.

    YET, the wealth redistributions, the privatisations, the propaganda still continues unremittingly.

    Through my formative years, I was scornful of people who had whacky conspiracy theories. But despite my cynicism, there seems to me to be an abundance of genuine hard facts to support the above.

    So that is why I have now started calling the UK “Airstrip One”, a reference to George Orwell’s visionary novel 1984 in which he warns us of the dangers of an authoritarian government that rules by persuading the population that it is acting in their interests through a propaganda machine (“Ministry of Truth” i.e. lies).

    I encourage you to do your own research – to look into NHS costs, to look at the receipt from privatisations vs. the dividends paid out – and decide for yourself whether utility privatisations were a huge con or not, whether the entire Conservative party is effectively a con or not, whether Britain is Broken or not and if so by whom.

    And next time there is a general election, vote for a government that will be working for YOU and not the already obscenely rich.


  2. Forgive me for saying I told them so.

    All this BS from government and Hernandez about how many officers they have recruited has consistently ignored the loss of experience that cannot be made up in a year or two, or indeed perhaps ten or even twenty. Those wise old coppers who taught the reality of daily policing are pretty much long gone now – and with them centuries worth of cumulative experience. Throughout one’s service, and to the day you retire, you are quite likely to be learning from more experienced officers and teaching others to whom you pass on the benefit of that experience.

    I am not sure how that lost experience will ever be regained for it was built on the experiences of generation upon generation of police service. Furthermore, rather than solving any corruption problems there is evidence that the recruitment policy has lowered standards and brought a whole new set of problems in with it.

    Politically active Commissioners, especially those with no suitability for such a role, like the wrong recruits, are not the answer. Degrees, though perhaps welcome, are not the answer either – and I say that having embraced academia after retirement.

    As for blue light training, first rule is treat everyone else on the road as someone who may surprise you.

    When a Tory comments on the number of officers recruited, ask how many years of experience were lost with May’s reductions in police numbers and how long will it take the recruits to become useful and not liabilities. The same argument may be made for nurses and doctors. You cannot beat relevant experience.

    All things considered, don’t we all want to be treated by professionals with plenty of experience?


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