£60,000 street marshal investment to make North Devon safer

North Devon Gazette

Street and taxi marshals will help make three North Devon hotspots safer for locals and visitors this summer.

The funding is part of an overall pot of £350,000 from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The money is aimed specifically at preventing antisocial behaviour (ASB) by young people and creating safer settings for the evening and night-time economy (ENTE) in key areas.

These themes were deliberately chosen to tie in with Devon and Cornwall’s Operation Marnow strategy which highlights both ASB and ENTE as potential issues this summer following the Covid unlock on July 19th and increased levels of visitors.

In North Devon, funding of £30,000 has been matched locally to give an overall spend of £60,000 across the three towns.

The money will be used to provide first-aid trained street marshals in Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe during the evenings, seven days a week.

The PCC’s £350,000 investment will also provide specific youth antisocial behaviour provision in a number of locations in Devon including Holsworthy and Great Torrington with outreach and engagement programmes provided through Safer Devon aimed at young people over the school holidays.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “I’m aware some of our communities are nervous about the spread of Covid during the unlock and may be too afraid to enjoy our beautiful towns, cities and coastline.

“Our experiences last summer showed that dry weather, alcohol and freedom led to some dire consequences. I want this opportunity to be used to prevent the escalation of anti-social behaviour because someone will intervene early setting clear expectations.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of Devon and Cornwall and it’s understandable that both locals and visitors will be wanting to make the most of their new-found freedoms and enjoy the summer.

“However, it’s important this does not veer into criminality or behaviour that can make others feel threatened or vulnerable.

“The measures we are funding will help us keep an eye on both antisocial behaviour and the night-time economy and hopefully prevent any unwanted scenarios, allowing everyone to enjoy themselves.”

Torridge District Councillor Philip Hackett, Lead Member for Environmental Health, Wellbeing and Community Safety, said: “It is recognised that the summer of 2021 will certainly be busy for our main town centre in Bideford and we are likely to see a considerable increase in the number of local residents and holiday makers visiting the town during the evenings, especially as we continue to see international travel restrictions imposed for the first part of the summer season.

“Torridge District Council’s Community Safety Partnership have therefore used the OPCC funding to appoint a local security company to provide two SIA licensed security staff to support the evening night -time economy with co-ordinated high visibility uniformed patrols of the town.

 “We hope that this will provide a reassuring presence for the public, and assist in the monitoring of the taxi rank each evening to enable the public to leave the town centre safely and in an orderly manner reducing the demand on all blue light services and to protect the most vulnerable within our community. This will also provide a direct link to local police and council teams – by utilising the existing town centre radio network.”

Cllr Caroline Leaver, Lead Member for the North Devon Community Safety Partnership, said: “We have used the PCC funding, match funded by HM Government's Welcome Back Fund, to provide Street Marshals to help keep people safe during what is likely to be an exceptionally busy summer.

“The marshals, provided by a local security company, are there to offer all kinds of assistance – they are first aid trained, are linked by radio to the police and will provide reassurance that Barnstaple and Ilfracombe are safe places to enjoy a holiday this summer.

“The marshals are patrolling seven evenings per week. Each morning, representatives from North Devon Council, the marshals, Devon and Cornwall Police, the Town Councils and Town Centre Management hold a meeting to review the previous evening’s events and task the marshals to target any specific areas of concern.

“By meeting every day we make sure that our North Devon towns can continue to be safe and welcoming places to visit.”

Chief Superintendent Dan Evans, Police Silver Commander for the Summer and Chair of the Safer Devon Partnership, said: “The Summer always poses a significant and unique challenge for us in Devon and Cornwall.

“This year we will have to deal with the backdrop of COVID-19 and a potential increase in visitors to the area compared to previous years. This will ultimately see an increase in demand on the services of all emergency services and partner agencies.”

“Devon & Cornwall Police have been planning for the Summer for some time, we have plans in place to deal with the threats identified and have additional resources available should we need them.

“The additional funding provided by the OPCC to Community Safety Partnerships across Devon and Cornwall will be used to better focus our resources and attention at specific hotspots – dealing with youth antisocial behaviour and antisocial behaviour associated with the ENTE.

“The money made available will facilitate us working in partnership to deal with these issues rather than any agency dealing with them in isolation.”