On Friday 6 July, Devon and Cornwall Police held a Connectivity discussion at Newton Abbot Police Station as part of their Annual Community Scrutiny Forum.
This is a summary report from Cllr. Peter Smerdon, SHDC Member for South Brent 01364 642207
The intention was to allow the police to explain their management and command structure across South Devon, to review their current communication methods and to explore ways of improving and modernising communications, with the public and stakeholders such as Councillors, Clerks and other community members.
In charge of the day was Chief Inspector Julian Pezzani, second in command of the whole South Devon policing area, which includes Torbay but not Plymouth.
The Sergeant in charge of each area within South Devon Force Area gave a presentation which detailed the number of Officers and PCSOs they have at their disposal. The areas we learnt about were:- Kingsbridge, Totnes, Dartmouth, Ivybridge, Newton Abbot, Teignbridge Rural, Paignton and Torquay. The Sergeants also explained how their officers engage with the public in their area and how they get out their important community information. In return they asked for feedback as to how this could be improved.
Here is a summary of what was said:-
Communications with Towns and Parishes varied, Officers will try to attend all the main towns and some larger villages, some every meeting, some possibly quarterly.
Some rural Parishes will get an email update every month or so, but not all areas. The advice to Clerks was to look at each “Area” section of the Devon and Cornwall Police website to check for crime information prior to a monthly meeting. You can also find details of your Neighbourhood Police Team there. Regular email updates come through which Members can sign up to and which are very helpful.
Increasing emphasis is being placed on social media. Each of the above 8 areas has its own Facebook page, some have their own Twitter account. The D&C force Twitter account is a very good source of rapid information, from experience it is well worth “following”.
Frustrations were expressed about the apparent lack of support given to Neighbourhood Watch, and with the 101 (non emergency) phone no. While promising to do better, it seems that greater priority is being given to online communication.
The South Devon area will be upgraded in the autumn to a Basic Command Unit under the command of a Chief Superintendent.
Communities concerned about vehicle speeds can apply to be trained to run a Community Speedwatch, using electronic equipment.
Recent emphasis has been given to forming units of Police Cadets, age 14-18. Newton Abbot has a very strong Cadet group of around 50. Many of these young people go on to join the Force or other emergency services
If you have suggestions you would like to make or community safety concerns in your parish please liaise with Louisa Daley SHDC Safeguarding and Community Safety Specialist. She is the main contact point for SHDC and D&C Police and shares information with C.I. Pezzani.