Recorded crime in Devon and Cornwall has shot up by more than 10 per cent in the past year, with sexual offences double that and thefts and shoplifting by 50 per cent.
No selfie from Alison Hernandez? – Owl
But the police service says a rise was to be expected, after a dip during the height of the pandemic.
Hello, hello, hello (image courtesy: Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner)
And they claim the region remains one of the safest places in England and Wales, given that across those two countries the average rise in crime was higher at 12.3 per cent, 1.3 percentage points lowe than Wiltshire, which ranks as first place for the lowest total number of crimes in the 12 months to the end of September 2022.
When compared to pre-covid crime levels in 2019, Devon and Cornwall has seen an increase of just 1.4 per cent.
Deputy chief constable Jim Colwell said: “These figures are a good indicator of where we need to make improvements to tackle crime across Devon and Cornwall.
“There has been a 19.2 per cent rise in reported sexual offences compared to the same time the previous year. Tackling violence against women and girls remains a priority for the Force, and we are continuing to encourage victims to report crimes. We are committed to preventing these offences, ensuring that victims are fully supported and that crimes are thoroughly investigated.
“We continue to work on making improvements in bringing sex offenders to justice, including our work with the national Operation Bluestone Soteria team to review our response to rape and sexual offences. This work will ensure that we provide the highest possible level of service and standards of investigation when tackling violence and sexual offences against women and girls.”
Victim-based crime in Devon and Cornwall has risen by 11.8 per cent. Theft from the person and shoplifting saw the biggest increase and have risen by 49.1 per cent and 28.8 per cent, respectively.
This increase in theft may potentially be due to the cost-of-living increase and the financial difficulties people are currently experiencing.
Mr Colwell continued: “We acknowledge how distressing it is to be a victim of burglary or theft, and we will continue to develop our response in tackling these crimes.
“Despite increases, as a force we have some of the lowest crime rate of in these offence types. Whilst theft from the person has a 46.9 per cent increase, this number translates to 592 crimes within that 12-month period.
“Theft from the person has a crime rate of 0.3 per 1,000 population, and whilst we have seen an increase compared to previous statistics, our national position has dropped to being the fourth lowest in England and Wales.
“Whilst these figures are one measure of performance, public confidence in policing from our communities is equally important and we appreciate their support as we continue our work to tackle crime that affects our communities in order to keep them safe.”
Police and crime commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, said: “I am pleased to represent the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with a police force area which has consistently achieved one of the lowest recorded crime rates in the country. This has been delivered through our largely law-abiding residents and visitors alongside many years of close collaboration between policing, partners and the communities we serve.
“However, these figures tell me and new Chief Constable Will Kerr, that there is much work still to be done, particularly in relation to the worrying rise in violent crime. We must continue our efforts to prevent violence and continue our work on focusing on young people to build this out of our community for the longer term.
“A more connected and accessible police force will ultimately deliver safer communities for us all and that is what we are focused on delivering. We have reopened six police stations to the public this financial year and plans for 2023-24 will see six more police station front desks reopened across Devon and Cornwall.
“Combine this community presence with our many hundreds of new police recruits and we are presented with a once in a generation opportunity to prevent crime at a neighbourhood level and create a policing model that will be the envy of the country.”
How ironic that Mr Colwell’s name should crop up again in respect of the increase in reported sexual offences in particular, a category for which his force is in special measures.
This is in the same week that one of his spokesperson colleagues has had the chutzpah to tell the BBC, regarding the DCC report on the John Humphreys issue: “The appropriate and agreed route for sharing sensitive information with relevant partners is through the LADO
“Once a partner has been informed of the risk, it is down to them to manage this issue internally as they see fit.
“We believe that East Devon District Council, with the support of Devon County Council, are undertaking an internal review into this process.”
The principal public service that failed these victims is our police force.
It’s a matter of public record that these failures took place in the following periods.
1991, involving a child who was 12 or 13, anally raped in two residential properties and on Woodbury Common, and where there was apparently significant social services involvement. So why did the DCC investigation commence in 2004?
Approximately 2003 to 2007, the gentleman who has come forward to East Devon District Council. Groomed and abused. Where the judge felt moved to highlight surprising content in the police actions to the jury.
Approximately, 2012/14 when this same gentleman bravely attempted to make his complaint again and says he was harassed, and his family and friends threatened by police. Colwell has confirmed that a single officer was spoken to in respect of these actions, yet no officers have apparently been disciplined or prosecuted. Despite the wishes expressed by Mr Colwell and his spokesmen that this gentleman and the other victim successful in the case should now get on with their lives, it is clear that this one at least is not ready to do so. With good reason one might think.
The very disappointing report produced for Devon County Council has at least demonstrated that the other two alleged victims referred to by the complainant actually do, or did exist. The police are not prepared to tell us anything, including when, but now the offending is alleged to go back to the 80s. These victims are presumably also not ready to get on with their lives.
So at least two further failed “investigations”, resurrected in 2015 amid no publicity, and the five years of out of character secrecy.
As a consequence of the continued secrecy surrounding these matters, EDDC and DCC have been obliged to spend our money on their own investigations, with elements within both councils seeming keen to limit their scope, and with significantly contrasting records of the LADO meetings.
At a time when police forces generally are being required to demonstrate that they understand their obligations to the public, Mr Colwell and his force appear to be demonstrating that their mates, and their pensions, are their priority.
We do not know whether these failures are due to either judgementalism, incompetence, misconduct, or corruption.
What Mr Colwell and his bosses are effectively telling us is that where matters involving “important” people are concerned, we will all be treated like this.