Police plan to cope with North Devon cuts

Joseph Bulmer

Strategy to deal with budget cuts will ensure successful fight against crime continues, says local police chief

POLICE in North Devon have drawn up a strategy to deal with budget cuts against a background of continuing success in the fight against crime.

Geographical boundaries are being removed and officers will move around the region as required, starting their shifts from response “hubs.” They will not sit in the station waiting for calls, but will be deployed to areas to ensure good coverage.

Local policing teams will remain at the heart of the strategy and all communities will continue to have a named neighbourhood beat officer and police community support officers.

They will also be assisted by local policing support teams, but the numbers in these teams may decline as the numbers of officers in the force reduces.

Call handlers will play a significant role in resolving issues as the first point of contact to provide a better service to the public.

The vast majority of police officers will be working to the same shift patterns and three-fifths of them will be on duty each day with many more working evenings and weekends when demand dictates.

The new system started on Friday and resulted in more policemen being on the streets.

In fact, North Devon is likely to end up with more officers following the cuts. Twenty additional CID constables are being recruited because formulae used to match resources to demand throughout the force showed they were needed.

Superintendent Kevin Harris, Commander of North and West Devon Police, said: “I have every confidence in our blueprint design to deliver equally good and probably enhanced police services in this part of the force.

“We have an excellent team who thrive on the local environment and predominantly live among us, enjoying all the splendid benefits North Devon has to offer.”

One of those benefits is the fact that North Devon is the second safest place to live in the country following a sixth successive year of falling crime - down by 9.5 per cent in the year to March.

Just 6,786 crimes were recorded, including only 224 burglaries throughout the huge area with a 175,000 population.

There was a 17 per cent reduction in criminal damage and a 39 per cent reduction of theft from vehicles. Harassment cases (8.4 per cent) and serious assaults (18.5 per cent) also went down, although violence with injury figures were still a problem.

Mr Harris said: Overall, I am very pleased and proud of these figures which I believe demonstrate superb support from our communities and all our partners across the policing area, including those from education, private and public sector, the media, the military and those elected to serve in public office.”