Police prepare for busy summer

Packed timetable of public events and continuing cuts put pressure on local Force.

POLICE in North Devon have warned they are facing their busiest summer in many years due to increased staffing pressures and a packed timetable of public events looming.

The Devon and Cornwall Constabulary is set to shed 700-officers up to 2015 as the Force sets to make savings of 20 per cent to tackle a �47 million budget cut imposed by the Government.

It is currently losing around 11 officers a month, many with 30 years’ or more experience having to take forced retirement under controversially-evoked police pensions regulations.

Inspector Roger Bartlett, Acting Commander North and West Devon, told the Gazette that that equates to ‘one-or-two officers a month’ in North Devon.

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He said: “It’s a massive bit of work and it’s still ongoing. It’s obviously led to a lot of disruption to local staff in terms of changes in shift patterns.

“It’s going to be a really challenging summer for us in North Devon, with the Olympics, the Euro football championships and the Olympic Torch event, among others.

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“We will also be losing one or two officers to the Olympics and with the reductions we are seeing it’s going to be a tough year for officers, who are being told that they can’t take leave at certain times.”

Insp Bartlett said the local force had been ‘stripped away’ over the years and the only savings left to make were staffing.

“Devon and Cornwall has been hit harder than any other Force in the country in terms of staffing,” he said

Insp Bartlett said that policing would still be allocated for local events such as Barnstaple Carnival, but the level of ‘goodwill’ assistance traditionally given in the past would need to be balanced with the resources at hand.

He said that priority would be placed on community engagement and that local officers had spoken to event organisers about how best to avoid police costs.

“We want to provide the same level of support we have always be able to do but in challenging times, we may not be able to assist in ways we have been able to in the past.

“In previous years we would have had 15-plus officers at the carnival but last year we only had four-or-five for engagement purposes only.

“We will not be marshalling the highway during the Pilton Green Man procession this year but there will be officers in Pilton Street as part of the day.

“Police will happily provide advice to develop good practice and safety at local events.

“It is hoped that as part of the Force restructure, Barnstaple will be provided with a small team of officers to assist with local events,” he added.

“I can also say that PCSO numbers are not changing for the foreseeable future, guaranteed until 2013.

“PCSOs form the bedrock of our engagement with the community and those numbers are not going to change.”

What do you think about the police cuts? Email newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk

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