Councillors recommend lobbying for a fairer funding deal for Devon & Cornwall Constabulary and request improved funding for much valued local PCSOs

Devon and Cornwall’s new Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez was a welcome visitor to East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny meeting on Thursday 3 November 2016.

The Scrutiny committee questioned Ms Hernandez on issues relating to the policing of the East Devon area, such as:

  • Local communities feeling a lack of connection with the police
  • Administration difficulties faced by community speed watch groups
  • Concerns over licensing legislation, especially in relation to the public health objective
  • Modern slavery and how to recognize/report it. Training is available for councillors. The Community Safety Partnership (CSP) recognizes this issue and held a recent workshop in Honiton about it
  • The efficiency of the constabulary and its lack of funding, as well as the challenges faced by rural policing and a need for recognition of the tourism impact on policing in East Devon
  • What savings could be achieved by a strategic alliance with Dorset constabulary
  • More use of CCTV
  • Online crime - Ms Hernandez said she has made educating both the public and businesses in the dangers of online crime a priority and said that a web chat service on this issue was currently being tested.

Following the debate, the committee made a number of recommendations:

  1. Through the National Rural Network of the Local Government Association, the Leader of the council will lobby for a fairer funding deal from Government for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and additionally lobby local MPs on the issue
  2. The council recognises the valued work of the PCSOs and wishes the Police and Crime Commissioner to press to at least continue, and at best to improve, funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) as a valued part of the life of the district’s local communities
  3. That ward members, in the spirit of partnership working under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, assist in publicising the ways of reporting crime alongside the publicity work already underway by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, by contact with their local town and parish councillors and constituents
  4. Scrutiny wishes the Police and Crime Commissioner to reconsider the planned closures for 2017, as part of the review of police stations
  5. Scrutiny  wishes the Police and Crime Commissioner to work to reduce the administrative burden on local groups setting up community speed watches, to help those groups achieve safer roads in their local community

Alison Hernandez welcomed any help offered from the council in lobbying for fairer funding for the constabulary, which has been recognised as incorrect.

At the next meeting of Scrutiny on 24 November 2016, the committee will turn their attention to the new Devon CCG consultation on in-patient beds in community hospitals.  Scrutiny has had many past discussions with the CCG and recognises that this latest consultation has caused outrage and upset among the public, particularly for those people who have contributed to local community hospitals through the League of Friends organisation.

Commenting on the meeting, the Chairman of Scrutiny, Councillor Roger Giles, said:

The Scrutiny Committee was very pleased to have been able to discuss with Alison Hernandez several policing issues that were of concern to councillors and their communities. We are keen to play our part in seeking a fair funding settlement for Devon and Cornwall, which would hopefully enable a more visible police presence, which would ensure the continuing and hopefully improved role for PCSOs, and which would ensure that there are no further police station closures in East Devon.