Devon and Cornwall Police has biggest cut (22%) in south-west

“Seven years of austerity has seen police numbers cut by “more than 15%”, according to new research from Unison.

There are now 2,817 fewer people employed by the South West’s five forces than there were in 2010.

Devon and Cornwall’s force has been hit worst – losing 22% of its strength.

Unison says the government needs to stop the cuts and get numbers back to a reasonable level.

Its Police and Justice Lead Mike Cracknell said austerity is “hitting public safety”.

“Our police workers are 100% committed to keeping people safe, often putting themselves in danger to do so. But you can’t do the job with a skeleton crew.”

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd says the evidence doesn’t back up claims that reduced resources are the cause of more crime.”

Do declining police numbers increase violent crime?

Owl is sure Tory Police and [Increasing] Crime Commissioner Hernandez will have an interesting theory!

“Police chiefs have hit back at claims a massive 90% rise in violent crime across Cornwall and Devon in the last nine years might be linked to ever decreasing officer numbers.

In Devon and Cornwall there were 32,509 violent crimes reported in the year to September 2017 (the latest figures), a 91% rise from the 17,058 reports received in the year ending September 2009.

However, over the same period the full-time equivalent number of police officers at the force has fallen by 18%, from 3,562 in September 2009 to 2,921 in September 2017, a loss of 641 officers.”

So, what difference has our Police and Crime Commissioner made to policing in Devon?

“Devon and Cornwall Police needs to improve at keeping people safe and reducing crime, an official watchdog has ruled.

The force was given the rating of ‘requires improvement’ in its annual report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

In particular, it received poor grades in two key areas – investigating crime and preventing reoffending and protecting vulnerable people.

The findings come with inspectors raising “major concerns” over the stress police forces across the country are under, with “cracks beginning to show” due to budget cuts.

For 2017, Devon and Cornwall Police received a ‘good’ grade for tackling serious and organised crime, and for preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.

But it received a ‘requires improvement’ grade for both investigating crime and protecting vulnerable people.

That meant the force received an overall grade of ‘requires improvement’ this year.

The report showed that recorded crime in Devon and Cornwall was up 17 per cent for the 12 months to June 2017 compared with the 12 months to June 2016.

This is compared to a national rise of 14 per cent.

Although Devon and Cornwall Police was seen to have made progress in some areas since 2016, its performance in other areas has deteriorated.

Inspectors found that the force needs to provide better support to officers and staff investigating crimes with vulnerable victims.

It also needs to improve its understanding of the way it protects some victims of domestic abuse.

Similarly, the force requires improvement in some aspects of investigating crime and reducing re-offending, as while victims generally receive a good service, rising demand has undermined the quality of some subsequent investigations. …

In total, 12 of the 43 police forces are considered to require improvement overall – including Devon and Cornwall – although none were seen to be inadequate. …

Performance is still below standard in nearly half of all forces. …”

Police numbers plummet as crime rises

“The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by 1,213 in six months and is now 16% below its 2009 peak, official figures have shown. The latest Home Office statistics put the number of officers in the 43 police forces in England and Wales on 30 September last year at 121,929, down from 123,142 on 31 March last year and from 144,353 in 2009.

In evidence submitted to the police remuneration review body last week, the Home Office made clear that no more central funding would be available for the pay settlement, describing the recruitment and retention of officers as “stable”. But Labour said that was out of touch with reality, given the figures.

The shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh, said: “Once again we see how out of touch the Conservatives are with the lives of people across this country. Over 1,200 officers lost in just six months, more than 21,000 in total under this Tory government, against a backdrop of the highest rises in recorded crime in a decade.

“And yet ministers apparently think everything’s fine. Labour in government will add 10,000 police officers and provide the resources they need.” …

Devon police numbers down by 10% in 5 years

Owl wonders how many extra police officers we could have if we abolished the office of Police and Crime Commissioner?

“There are almost 10 per cent less police officers on Devon’s streets than five years ago, new figures have revealed.

The number of neighbourhood officers employed by Devon and Cornwall Police is down by a huge 58 per cent during that period with local PCSOs down by 13 per cent.

During the five year period Devon and Cornwall suffered a net loss of 311 officers with there now being 367 fewer police on the streets than in 2012, according figures released by the BBC shared data unit.

Devon and Cornwall Police said that the reduction in numbers do not reflect the ‘wider police roles visible in our communities’.

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.”

Police and Crime Commissioner wants our opinion on raising police precept

Sadly, she doesn’t want our opinion on the vast sum of money wasted on her and her employees which appears to be somewhere between more £1 million and up to £3 m depending on where you look (Owl is not an accountant) – with, of course, more staff to help her.
(pages 12, 24 and 26)

“The Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez invites you to take part in a survey about increasing the precept for police funding in your area. Please click on the attached link to take part.

Thank you.
Message Sent By
Natasha Radford (Police, Community Messaging Officer, Devon and Cornwall)”

“Freemasons are blocking reform, says Police Federation leader”

Remember how Owl was taken to task for saying planners took more notice of Freemasons than town councillors …

Well …

“Reform in policing is being blocked by members of the Freemasons, and their influence in the service is thwarting the progress of women and people from black and minority ethnic communities, the leader of rank-and-file officers has said.

Steve White, who steps down on Monday after three years as chair of the Police Federation, told the Guardian he was concerned about the continued influence of Freemasons.

White took charge with the government threatening to take over the federation if it did not reform after a string of scandals and controversies.

The Freemasons is one of the world’s oldest secular societies, made up of people, predominantly men, concerned with moral and spiritual values. Their critics say they are secretive and serve the interests of their members over the interests of the public. The Masons deny this, saying they uphold values in keeping with public service and high morals.

White told the Guardian: “What people do in their private lives is a matter for them. When it becomes an issue is when it affects their work. There have been occasions when colleagues of mine have suspected that Freemasons have been an obstacle to reform.

“We need to make sure that people are making decisions for the right reasons and there is a need for future continuing cultural reform in the Fed, which should be reflective of the makeup of policing.”

One previous Metropolitan police commissioner, the late Sir Kenneth Newman, opposed the presence of Masons in the police.

White would not name names, but did not deny that some key figures in local Police Federation branches were Masons.

White said: “It’s about trust and confidence. There are people who feel that being a Freemason and a police officer is not necessarily a good idea. I find it odd that there are pockets of the organisation where a significant number of representatives are Freemasons.”

The Masons deny any clash or reason police officers should not be members of their organisation.

Mike Baker, spokesman for the United Grand Lodge, said: “Why would there be a clash? It’s the same as saying there would be a clash between anyone in a membership organisation and in a public service.

“We are parallel organisations, we fit into these organisations and have high moral principles and values.”

Baker said Freemasonry was open to all, the only requirement being “faith in a supreme being”. He said there were a number of police officers who were Masons and police lodges, such as the Manor of St James, set up for Scotland Yard officers, and Sine Favore, set up in 2010 by Police Federation members. One of those was the Met officer John Tully, who went on to be chair of the federation and, after retirement from policing, is an administrator at the United Grand Lodge of England.

Masons in the police have been accused of covering up for fellow members and favouring them for promotion over more talented, non-Mason officers.

White said: “Some female representatives were concerned about Freemason influence in the Fed. The culture is something that can either discourage or encourage people from the ethnic minorities or women from being part of an organisation.”

The federation has passed new rules on how it runs itself, aimed at ending the fact that its key senior officials are all white, and predominantly male.

White said he hoped the new rules would lead to an end to old white men dominating the federation: “The new regulations will mean Freemasons leading to an old boys’ network will be much less likely in the future. …”