North Devon police will escape worst of the cuts

INNOVATIVE cost saving measures mean that the police service in North Devon will see minimal cut backs in the new financial year. The axe has fallen instead on police cars, with three vehicles removed from the local fleet and officers encouraged to get ab

INNOVATIVE cost saving measures mean that the police service in North Devon will see minimal cut backs in the new financial year.

The axe has fallen instead on police cars, with three vehicles removed from the local fleet and officers encouraged to get about on foot, by bicycle and aboard public transport.

This and other budgeting measures are North Devon's answer to a squeeze on public spending which is expected to cost Devon and Cornwall Constabulary as a whole 180 jobs as efforts are made to save �14 million over the next three years.

Superintendent Kevin Harris, the Area Commander, told the Gazette there would be "no significant impacts" on the region:


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"A review of transportation costs has allowed us to remove three vehicles from the North Devon fleet and we have found other ways of getting around," he said.

"We have put more resources into foot patrols in response to public demand and now use buses and bicycles far more often, again so the public can see us more often and speak freely with us in the street, rather than us whizzing around in cars where we can't engage with the community."

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The police already have an agreement with local bus companies allowing officers to ride the buses around their local beats as well as travelling to and from their patch.

Sergeant Andy Wills, neighbourhood beat manager for the Forches area, said they appreciated the assistance of the bus companies, which enabled officers to enjoy far more contact with their communities rather than be "stuck" in police cars and unapproachable.

"It's an ideal means for us to get to and from our local neighbourhood beats; then we can come back and foot patrol," he said.

"It enables us to engage with the community on the streets and to date I have not heard a negative word from local people about the initiative."

Supt Harris said further savings had been made over time, with a number of internal processes introduced to increase efficiency, cut wastage and reduce costs.

"We have over time also reduced indoor staff numbers to a very lean administrative support for our frontline staff, officers, PCSOs and Special Constables," he said.

"We have contributed to the savings in overtime and now have sufficient resources to effectively address crime and disorder in North Devon, as demonstrated by our recent fantastic performance figures.

"Barnstaple town beat for example has a reduction in crime for the third year in a row and a 47 per cent detection rate - unparalled in the UK, we believe.

"We are meeting our Policing Pledge response times in most cases and have a 17.5 per cent reduction in crime across North Devon with 1,371 fewer victims of crime than last year.

"This force is the fourth safest place to live in the UK, with only three other forces having a lower crime rate per 1,000 of population - and North Devon is probably the safest place to live in this force.

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