Consultation on police merger with Dorset coming to a close

Discussions and consultation are well under way for a merger of Devon & Cornwall Police with Dorset Police – wonder if they will come up with a snappier title than Devon, Cornwall & Dorset Police!

On a serious note, this is a major change for policing in our area.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “The summer months are always some of the most challenging Devon & Cornwall Police face and this year has been no exception. Tourists flock to this beautiful area which swells our population by millions, and we have seen a number of successful major events held in the area which require a large amount of resources, both in the planning and policing of.

“As ever, we have our own unique incidents in the area thanks to our mix of urban, rural and costal geography. We have also had a number of notable results in major cases, including the jailing of an armed gang of men in July who robbed approximately £1million worth of jewellery from a Truro jewellers in the largest armed robbery the force has ever seen.

“July was a particularly challenging month for the force with one of the busiest weekends on record. Not only did we have the standard day-to-day policing challenges across the region but the exceptionally hot weather, combined with the influx of tourists and the excitement of the World Cup provided additional challenges. August sees further big events in places like Newquay, like last weekend’s Boardmasters festival and the upcoming Cornwall Pride.

“We also have a responsibility to offer mutual aid to other forces across the South West and the UK when major incidents arise. Recently, we have supported our colleagues in Wiltshire following a Novichok related incident and our colleagues in Thames Valley and the capital during the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK.

“Devon & Cornwall Police has responded to austerity and has provided significant reductions in its operating budget over recent years. Restraint on police resources continue to place a strain upon the force and rising demand only increases this pressure.”

So, there are lots of illustrations there of inter-force co-operation but the real rub surely comes in the last paragraph. Policing has received significant reductions in its operating budget and created pressure on resources.

Chief Constable Sawyer added: “Discussions have been ongoing this year to progress our relationship with Dorset Police and create a new police force. We absolutely believe the proposed merger is the right thing to do, not only for our communities but also for our workforce who are actively managing increasing demands on a daily basis. Truly unified and integrated resources will give the force much greater resilience and flexibility – as policing demands arise and change, resources can be redeployed into key areas as necessary. It also provides a greater opportunity to grow areas of the business which are important to our local population, including new frontline officers and staff to serve our communities.

“The proposed merger between Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police is not a done deal. Operationally this summer has proved some aspects of the operational case.

“Should the public support the proposals and the joint leadership team agree in moving this forward, we will present the Home Office with a full business case this October. For the overwhelming majority of staff and the public there will be limited immediate change from that which they see today. However, a new force would also provide resilience to future financial threats and allow us to be more effective and efficient in what we deliver, and to continue to support those most vulnerable in our communities.

“We really need public support to become better than we are able to be at present. We have a real opportunity to push the boundaries and develop a new cutting edge service by having to do things only once, combining our resources in all areas and investing in new capabilities to meet those growing threats from issues such as cybercrime. These can only be achieved through creating a new force and even a developed Alliance cannot deliver that.

“We, as a force – whatever our size or name might be in the future – will continue to work hard to protect the vulnerable, to reduce crime, and to provide a high quality service to the public that we serve.”

Go to www.futurepolicing.co.uk for more information about the proposed merger and to complete the survey which is open until Monday 27 August.

For a printed copy of the survey contact your police and crime commissioner’s office.

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