The Devon and Cornwall region has 125,000 more people than the police is funded to protect.
The 45 million tourists who visit the South West during the summer are not counted by the Government, leaving a gap in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary’s budget.
Plymouth City Council asked Devon & Cornwall Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez and Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer to explain a report on the challenges of summer policing at the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel meeting held on 14 June.
According to their presentation at the meeting, the regional crime rate increases by 10% in the summer. Police studies show that an average day in off-season sees 300 crimes reported regionally, while an average day during the summer season sees 330 crimes reported.
During the meeting, Councillor Roger Croad said, “Exeter has a massively increased population during the summer months, and the panel does not believe this is captured in the base funding.”
an average day in off-season sees 300 crimes reported regionally, while an average day during the summer season sees 330 crimes reported
When questioned by Councillor Gareth Derrick about the Constabulary’s ability to access funding, Herdanez cited the Bedfordshire Constabulary’s success in accessing additional funding from the Home Office to combat regional knife crime.
Herdanez continued to say: “It’s more about how we articulate it [to the Home Office]. It may be business as usual, but we’ve never been funded for it. It’s an exceptional event every year that our local funding is not supplied for, and we want to go for it.”
Sawyer asked the council to help the Constabulary appeal to Westminster for the additional funding. He added, “You spread the thin blue line and the gaps get bigger. The Commissioner has kindly provided £200,000 to provide back office support, which allows us to do more statement taking.
“That kind of increase is people. 81% of the budget is people. Things take longer, people are more frustrated. Neighbourhood beat officers will be spending more time on caravan sites.”
Chief Constable Sawyer asked the council to help the Constabulary appeal to Westminster for the additional funding
Sawyer also expressed concerns that the increased strain on the police might upset local taxpayers. He said, “People don’t get the basic service they would get other months of the year, so it’s a multiplier effect, in terms of visibility, responsiveness and timeliness. With these numbers of crimes, it takes us longer to investigate. Instead of getting to you in two days or three days, it will become days and weeks and months, at which point the public loses confidence in us.”
The Council were in agreement with the Constabulary. Councillor Phillip Hackett said, “To get up to the average, it’s eight pence per head per day of the population, or £29.20. If you multiply that by 1.8 million of the population, you’re looking at a figure of 52 million, which shows just how far behind we are.”