What will be left of community policing in Cornwall after the Government cuts.

The Government’s ‘war’ against the public sector does not look like letting up, or even having a short ceasefire. Cornwall Council has had to save £196m over the last four years, and is set to save up to a further £156m by 2018. These cuts are brutal, and affect some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Yet, Cornwall Council is not the only public sector organisation who is being made to make cuts and reductions in services. The police force in Cornwall and Devon has to make wholesale cuts too.

The facts are the police service in Cornwall (and Devon) is already poorly served by the current funding formula, which is based on outdated evidence, and biased towards urban areas – like so many other Government funding formulas!!

Furthermore, the funding formula does not take into account non-crime demand – like mental health, tourism and rurality. Out of all the police forces, only three forces face higher reductions than Cornwall and Devon; Cumbria, the Metropolitan Police (I was surprised at this one) and Lancashire.

The police in Cornwall and Devon have already cut 860 posts over the past 5 years, which in real-terms equates to 500 officers and 360 staff as part of their work to save a target of £58m.

The latest proposals from the Government signal a further reduction in grant of 8% for Devon and Cornwall police force, equating to a further loss of £13.5m. This cut makes Devon and Cornwall Police one of the worse hit police forces in the country. A £13.5 million cut equates to a loss of 370 police officers and staff.

When this is coupled with the potential for a further 25% cut to policing as part of the Chancellor’s Spending Review, The police in Cornwall and Devon could see further cuts of up to £54m. This will only end up with fewer officers doing their job.

Like funding for Cornwall Council and Health services, the police budget take no account of the impact of tourism in setting the budget.  I feel this is grossly unfair the Government ignores this fact in budget setting.

Furthermore, it has also failed to take on board the following key points in how the formula works:

  • Failed to take into consideration funding for non-crime demand on the police such as road safety, child protection and mental health issues;
  • The additional cost required to police rural areas. On this, the Government has given no explanation about why rurality is not considered to be important in working out the funding formula;
  • Failed to take into account the impact of alcohol, which is one of the key drivers of crime.

For example Devon and Cornwall has the 6th highest concentration of bars and clubs in England and Wales – the same amount as West Yorkshire. But Cornwall and Devon receives £27 million less than West Yorkshire. Cornwall and Devon is five times the size of West Yorkshire.

The funding measure does not look at the levels of concentration of pubs and clubs. Again for example, Plymouth has the 9th highest concentration of pubs and clubs of any local authority in the country – but this is completely ignored in the calculation.

On Tuesday, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg was in Helston. I was invited  to put a series of questions to him about how the cuts to the police budget will affect community policing in Porthleven and Helston – he actually lives within my Division – and how does he see the future of community policing in Cornwall if these cuts are implemented.

I also asked him what guarantees can he give residents that there will be a police presence in Porthleven and Helston after the cuts; rather than police having to come from other larger settlements.

His answer was stark, the budget cuts will have an impact on policing levels in not only Porthleven and Helston, but in the whole of Cornwall too. The Commissioner, told me he is urging the public to contact their MP’s, and write to the Government expressing their views on how the budget cuts will be harmful to police levels.

In questioning the commissioner, I asked him about vulnerable groups and if they would be left at risk if the cuts are implemented. The Commissioner shared my worry.

One of the options open to the Commissioner is to raise the precept for the Police Authority to cover the shortfall in funding from the Government. Cornwall Council has struggled with this question too, but has been limited in how much the Council can raise the Council Tax to a maximum of 2%. Any raise over 2% will have to be decided by means of a referendum

Any raising of a precept (Council or police) is unpopular, but what are the choices? Less police if the money is not found? Will the police force in Cornwall be one of reactionary, rather than prevent? And where will it leave the police in non-crime areas, like mental health and child protection? If you did not know, the police are also the lead in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Cornwall.

If the police budget is reduced, then these areas will be under greater pressure with other agencies having to pick up the cap. Of course, those other agencies are the Council and Health, who are under huge financial pressures themselves.

My fear when you add all the agencies cuts together, vulnerable groups will be at risk, or should I say greater and harmful risk. When will the Government see their ‘austerity measures’ are actually harming the groups they should be protecting.

Will these cuts mean the total end of ‘Bobbies on the beat’?

 

Devon and Cornwall Police to increase the use ofAutomatic Number Plate Recognition cameras in Cornwall.

Devon and Cornwall Police are working with Cornwall Council in a joint initiative to increase the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras in Cornwall. The reason for this is to help meet the aims of both organisations in a period of budgetary pressures. The plan is to extend the existing camera network with another 27 cameras in locations across the county. These cameras will be fully funded by Devon & Cornwall Police

Before the increased expansion of ANPR cameras, Devon & Cornwall Police are holding a series of roadshows combining police ANPR vehicles and police motorcycles to demonstrate the system with representatives from both themselves and Cornwall Council’s Transport and Technology team.

Dates and venues for the roadshows are:

Monday 24 November 10.00 – 16.00 Lemon Quay, Truro
Tuesday 25 November 10.00 – 14.00 Asda, St Austell
Wednesday 26 November 10.00 – 14.00 Sainsbury’s, Newquay
Thursday 27 November 10.00 – 14.00 Morrison’s, Bodmin
Friday 28 November 10.00 – 14.00 Tesco, Callington

It is a shame there are no demonstrations West of Truro. As I am sure citizens West of Truro would be interested in seeing how this technology works. Though, you might say the demonstrations are not taking place in the West because the ANPR cameras are being installed East of Truro…..

Devon and Cornwall Police crime website

At a recent Porthleven Town Council meeting the local PCSO ‘Paul’ gave his monthly crime report for the area. In the scheme of things, crime is low in Porthleven. During the meeting, Paul mention the police’s crime website. On this site it lists all the different types of crimes in a policing area. It also gives the figures for the whole of Cornwall.

For example in August, Porthleven had 37 crimes reported. These ranged from the most common crime being anti social behaviour with 14 reported to violence and sexual offences which had two. There was also three vehicle offences for the same period.

The information is delivered by means of an interactive map, which also gives the location of the crime down to the street. The site does not only list crimes, but also gives other information like who is your local beat manager, police officer and PCSO.

I have to say I am very impressed with this site. However, there is only one slight drawback to this site at the moment, and that it is slightly out of date with the last recorded information was for August. Still I am sure this will be soon sorted.

The website can be found via clicking this link  Police.uk website

Beware Cornwall is being targeted by a professionally run scam

Cornwall and the South West is being targeted by a professionally run national scam that is attempting to defraud people, many who are vulnerable due to age, out of thousands of pounds.

The offenders are tending to exhaust opportunities in one particular area of the country before moving onto another. Within the past few days West Cornwall, in particularly Helston has been the focus where a number of victims have transferred money into the offenders back accounts. Within the last 48 hours we’ve received reports of over £130000 being taken.

The MO is for the offenders to call the victims purporting to be a police officers from the MET and are investigating a crime relating to fraudulent activity on the victims bank account. They then convince the victim to either transfer their savings into another bank account or they obtain their bank details allowing them to withdraw money.

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Please ensure the following initial actions are taken if you or someone has been approached, or has been a victim of this scam.

  • Ring 101 and inform the D+C Police
  • Dial 1471 from the victims landline – may reveal the caller’s number if the last call received was from the offender(s)
  • The priority is to prevent loss to the victim. If you have been scammed, contact your bank with a view to cancelling the card/account and blocking transactions or any pending. If caught early (within 24 hours) your money might be recovered.

    If unsure of the identity of anyone who phones, hang-up and seek clarification from the organisation they say they are representing.

    The Police Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall

    After a marathon count, that lasted a good twelve hours or more, Devon and Cornwall’s Police Commissioner was duly elected.  The winner to this lofty position is Tony Hogg; ex-RN man and Conservative. So congratulations to Commissioner Hogg for being elected

    The numbers behind the election are pretty poor, with only 196,987 (15%) of voters taking part in the election. The two candidates with the most first round votes having to face off with each other because not one candidate got 51% of the first round votes. There numbers are:

    Candidate                First preferences   Second preferences  Total

    Tony Hogg              55257                         14162                             69419

    Brian Greenslade  24719                         12524                             37243

    As for the other candidates, this is how they faired in the first round:

    Nichola Jane Williams, Labour – 24196; Brian Samuel Blake, Liberal Democrats  – 23948; Robert Lee Smith, UK Independence Party – 16433; Ivan James Jordan, Independent – 12382; William Morris, Independent – 10586; John Noel Smith, Independent – 10171; Graham David Calderwood, Independent  – 8667; Thomas Macpherson, Independent – 4306

    The low turnout is worrying, but also is the number of rejected ballot papers. In the first round this was 6339, and in the second it was a staggering 17897. Of course some could just be down to people making a mistake filling in the boxes, but I really believe many spoilt papers were done on purpose as a some sort of protest vote.

    There is one thing that has concerned me on the Police Commissioner elections is the number of ‘so-called’ Independent candidates who could hardly be called Independent as they actively belong to political parties. In some cases they are sitting Councillors under a party banner! That is not Independent.

    The next 100 days are going to be interesting to see how these new commissioners take command of their various police authority areas. Let’s hope the first 100 days are not just fancy headlines and token gestures. But really can justify the £100 million spent on this process.

    Police Commissioner Elections and the Turnout

    It is hardly going to surprise anyone, but the turnout for the Police Commissioner was low. Better than was expected after some Polling Stations had indicated less than 10% turnout.

    So how did Cornwall do? Well including postal votes and those who turned up at the Polling Stations it was 15.2%. With 63,678 people voting out of a possible 418,656 electors.

    Plymouth turnout was 13.03%; East Devon 16.35%; Exeter 15.44%; Mid Devon 16.18%; North Devon 15.20%. The Isle of Scily and South Hams’ turnout percentages are not yet available. So I cannot give a accurate turnout percentage for the Police Authority area.

    It is though a low turnout, and just goes to show the way in which the Government implemented this process has left the principle of a Police Commissioner in taters.

    Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how many spoilt ballot papers there were. As this could further lower the percentage of people actually voting for someone.

    Cornwall and Devon Police Commissioner Elections

    With twenty days to go until polling day for the Police and Crime Commissioner you would think considering the fundamental change to how the Police Service is run there would be more about it, after all it for the first time, forty-one Police Authorities are going to have a directly elected head. And it has been said this is one of the biggest changes to how the Police is run since 1829.

    These elections are taking place on the 15th November (many people still do not know this) and I am staggered at the lack of information available to the public unless you Google it. It seems the Government has decided not to put any real resources into the process; apart from the odd advert on TV. Residents have asked me about it as they have no information. Many are saying why bother to vote, when there is not any real detail out there.

    Even experts in elections are predicting a very low turn-out, which is hardly surprising because of  the low-key way this election is being handled. If it is as predicted a low turn-out, how does that impact on the democratic process? Not well I fear, or the democratic mandate for the new Commissioner.

    So who is standing as a candidate in Cornwall and Devon? What are they promising to solve? There is a fully functioning  and official website for the Police Commissioner candidates HERE. But who is standing for Cornwall and Devon? You might be amazed, but there are ten candidates all wanting our vote. These are in alphabetical order:

    Brian Blake – Liberal Democrat – Info

    Graham Calderwood – Independent – Info

    Brian Greenslade – Independent – Info

    Cdre Tony Hogg – Conservative – Info

    Ivan Jorden – Independent – Info

    Tam Macpherson – Independent – Info

    William Morris – Independent – Info

    Bob Smith – UKIP – Info

    John Smith – Independent – Info

    Nicky Williams – Labour – Info

    I have linked the various candidates websites so you can have a look for yourself and make your mind up who you think can do the job. Let’s hope for the sake of democracy people actually turn out and vote on the day. For something that is a fundamental change to policing, and the Governments pet project, you would think they would have put in more effort in the whole thing.  I guess not.

    Old Police non-emergency number to be switched off

    In this weeks Helston Packet, there an article on a very important change to the Police non-emergency number. Currently, you can contact the police for non-emergency reasons on either, 08452 777444, or a more easy to remember number of 101.

    Now, from Sunday 2nd September, the 08452 number will be switched-off as a means of contacting the Police. If you do happen to call the this number, you will just hear an answering machine message asking to use 101. Furthermore, and I personally did not know this, you can email the Police with non-emergency crime. The e-mail address for this is 101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk.

    It is a pity people who contact the 101 number will have to pay 15p for each call. At least this is a standard rate no mater what time you call.

    Just remember 101 for non-emergency and 999 for emergency.

    Danger at Porthleven Cliffs

    Several months ago there was a massive cliff fall along Porthleven beach. This event took place at night, so there was limited danger to the public. With such a large part of the cliff coming away, this has weakened other parts of the cliff face.

    It is impossible to predict when another part of the cliffs will collapse, but as a layman looking at it, I would guess it is more likely to come away sooner rather than later. The landowner of the ground above (Donkey Field) has erected additional signs at the field, and below on the cliff face to warn people of the danger.

    I have also informed the National Trust and Cornwall Council of this danger and they are actively monitoring this area. The Police Inspector of the area has also been informed.

    The simple message is please don’t stand near a cliff face, especially when ‘Danger’ is written all over it!

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    Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner Candidates: Any Cornish Ones?

    On November 15th,  much of the UK will be going to the polls to vote for a Police Commissioner. Up to this point I have not given this subject a lot of though, but after seeing a display at a conference, I thought I should. So, what will the Police Commissioner (sorry, but every time I see Police Commissioner I think of Batman) do, and be responsible for?

    At the Home Office website it explains simply the roles and responsibilities. In essence, the role will provide stronger and more transparent accountability of the police, PCCs will be elected by the public to hold chief constables and the force to account; effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve (if you believe that).

    So, who has thrown their names into the bag for this role? The Labour Party, have been quick of the mark and have already selected their candidate Nicky Williams, a Councillor from Plymouth. The Liberal Democrats have yet to confirm any candidates, even though a party member from Devon is ‘thinking’ of standing, but as an Independent. As for any other standalone Independent it is hard to tell if there will be many. This is party due to the cost to stand as a candidate. The initial deposit is £5,000, and then on top of that is the election costs. These won’t be cheap either.

    For the Conservatives, they have at least five to choose from. This should be whittled down in the coming months by means of open primaries in Exeter, Plymouth, and West Cornwall. This list includes: Suzie Colley, Paul Biddle MBE, Alison Hernandez who are all from Devon. These are two candidates from Cornwall, these are former Royal Navy man Tony Hogg, and Cornwall Council’s one and only Lance Kennedy (though the rumour is he has not been selected in the run-off).

    Out of all the ‘thinking’ or declared candidates only two live in Cornwall. It might be an interesting dilemma for the Cornish to find any interest in voting for a candidate who has no real connection or understanding of Cornwall. Could the remaining two parties who have yet to select a candidate, take the steps to select a Cornish based candidate to give them that edge? The Cornish connection is important to many in Cornwall. Then again. Devon does have nearly double the population of Cornwall and those in Devon might not feel happy with having a Commissioner who is from, or even based in Cornwall.

    No doubt whoever is standing, we will be seeing the election campaign ramp-up in the coming months with the prize of political control of a police force. This is what scares me the most from the whole concept of an elected Police Commissioner. I have never thought politics and police mix well.

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