Friday, 17 August 2012

West Briton Column - 16th August 2012

Many people work hard to make Cornwall the popular and welcoming destination it is every summer, especially our local police.  Each summer the population across the South West rises from 1.5million to 8million as tourists flock to our beaches but the number of police remains constant.  Whilst many of us are able to take time off in the summer months to spend time with family members, police officers have to work harder to look after our communities.

In recent weeks I have been working with Devon and Cornwall Police to highlight to Ministers the extra demands imposed upon policing resources every summer, and to press for a new funding settlement that recognises this.

It is very important to me that our police officers have the support they need, at what is a time of great change for policing.

There has been cross-party agreement that police spending cannot be exempted from the national need to make savings, and that the focus of policing needs to shift to deploying officers on the frontline more effectively.  This has led to policing reforms being implemented across the country.

Figures released last month show that recorded crime in England and Wales fell by four percent over the past year, with the murder rate falling to the lowest level since 1983.  We are very fortunate to live in a low crime area.  You can visit and see this information.

Such progress couldn’t have been made without the incredible commitment of our police officers, countless numbers of whom everyday display dedication and personal courage that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

I meet regularly with local police officers to keep up to date with their thoughts on policing in Truro and Falmouth and am always struck by their spirit of public service, and particular keenness to engage with the communities they protect.  For example, in Falmouth, the newly formed ‘Street Watch’ initiative is an excellent example of this community focus.  Local residents, trained and supported by serving police officers, patrol the beach area in high-visibility jackets deterring low level crime, and pass on useful information to their police colleagues.  Others volunteer as Special Constables and join the ranks of the police in their spare time.  This commitment to duty shows their dedication to their local communities.

On Saturday night I joined the volunteer marshals at the Falmouth Carnival.  With financial support from Falmouth Town Council for high-visibility jackets and radios, the marshals have been trained by the police to help ensure the growing number of very popular events hosted in Falmouth run smoothly.

The police need our support more than ever and I will continue to support initiatives, often led by local businesses, parish councils and residents that take some of the strain from the police.

Such engagement with the public will continue to develop with the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall in November.  The successful candidate will have a unique opportunity to ensure that the priorities and wishes of the public are at the heart of local policing.

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