Alison Hernandez is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall
Our journey to increase visibility and reassurance in our communities at a time of austerity has led us to be more innovative. We think in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we’ve invented a new style of neighbourhood policing, this originated in this force when decades ago police chief here invested in neighbourhood teams while elsewhere they were putting money into responsive policing.
Even that has been eroded through the creation of so many specialist teams like armed response and those set up to tackle crimes of terrorism, serious violence, child sexual exploitation and abuse, regional organised crime, I could go on. It’s time we put neighbourhood policing back on the map. Prevention is always better than cure.
So we’ve had to invent new ways to deliver what our communities want and expect.
In Cornwall, we have piloted successfully the Tri-Service Safety Officer role. It’s the embodiment of the blue light services in one role, combining the skills of a trained firefighter, a co-responder paramedic for the ambulance service and having community safety accreditation from the police.
The individuals (and we have ten now) are highly skilled, highly trained, highly professional individuals there to respond to community need and based in our more rural and remote areas where we could never afford a full-time resource from any of the emergency services – even in the good times.
In Devon, we are trialling this year Community Responders. These are trained firefighters who work 21 hours a week for the fire service but will be a Police Special Constable and wear a police uniform, carrying out community policing and fire tasks while awaiting a fire shout. Again, they are being deployed to some of our most rural or coastal communities. This is an example of an exemplary employer-supported volunteering initiative. All we pay for this is a mere £6,000 per officer to support training and equipment while the fire service pays for them to be at its disposal in an emergency.
Many Police and Crime Commissioners backed Boris Johnson tobe our new Leader and Prime Minister. That’s because he’s got a track record of cutting crime and making law and order a priority. He’s the first MP to fully understand the value of Conservative PCCs alongside Kit Malthouse MP, who carried out the policing oversight for Johnson when Mayor of London.
We would like a strong team in government working with us at a local level to continue this innovation and to show why Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners are our only hope of making our communities safer and offering value for every pound of our hard-working taxpayers’ money.