11million people but no extra police funding

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

During the summer months, the population of Devon will swell by 1.4million, taking the population of the county to over 11million people during the height of the holidays.

There are more tourists in recent years as more people choose to partake in a “staycation” in the UK rather than going abroad.

Extra people undoubtedly lead to a greater need for the emergency services.

Road accidents, 999 calls and arrests rise sharply during the tourist season and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Chief Constable are asking for a special grant. Speaking exclusively to the Moorlander, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “We receive national funding from government and local funding from council tax payers.

‘National funding does not take into account the large number of visitors that we welcome each year, especially during the summer months. Irrespective of our many visitors, the force receives well below average police funding, at 49p per head of population, when the national average is 57p per day.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner and the force continue to invest in local communities.

‘This has recently included an investment in frontline visible roles within neighbourhood police and response policing, as well as investigations.

‘Although welcome and much needed, the force is facing greater demand and complexity than in 2010, when it had nearly 1000 more officers and staff.

‘Devon and Cornwall Police are particularly supportive of our tourism industry, as well as being conscious that we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom, which we would wish all members of our communities to see.

‘That includes our stunning moors and coastlines, which encompass precious wildlife and historic sites. One of our roles is to work with and support businesses in ensuring that we are all open for visitors, whether they be short or long stays.”

Alison Hernandez and Shaun Sawyer are in talks with the Home Office after writing to Policing Minister Nick Hurd.

They are calling for Devon and Cornwall’s underfunding to be recognised in the next Government Comprehensive Spending Review.

Ms Hernandez says a recent increase in the Government grant and allowing police forces to raise the council tax precept “meant we could set a budget that allowed the Chief Constable to recruit a further 85 officers but I want to go further.

‘Uncertainty over Brexit has already been credited for bringing more tourists to our part of the world. That’s good news for our economy but presents us with a policing challenge which I am pleased that the Government seems open to discussing.

‘We want to ensure that people visit us, have a great time and are kept safe by a police force that is sufficiently resourced.”

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