This week I am working with police forces around the South West to bear down on one of my priority areas.

Operation Scorpion is in its sixth round and over the past two years has led to dozens of arrests, the seizure of drugs worth thousands of pounds and knives and guns being seized.

I am totally behind police on this mission to let dealers know that our region is no place for drugs. But we must also tackle the demand side of this evil trade by helping those who genuinely want to rid themselves of addiction, and am in full support of the organisations which help them on that journey.

Clean Ascent, a Devon-based charity, received one of my community grants last year to deliver an outdoor climbing project for people in recovery from substance misuse. Pilots of the programme had demonstrated its effectiveness in helping people move on from long-term drug use or dependence on prescription replacements, and often long histories of involvement in the criminal justice system.

The programme not only helps participants to improve their health and fitness but develops their feelings of confidence and self-worth, and their connection with others. There is also a much wider positive impact in terms of reduced rates of criminality and ill health, and improved relationships within families and the community.

A survey of participants following the programme showed, among other results, a 65 per cent reduction in drug use and a 68 per cent improvement in physical and mental wellbeing. Six of those who took part in the programme are now in training for professional outdoors and climbing qualifications.

Across the Tamar in Cornwall my grant scheme supported the West-Cornwall-based charity A Band of Brothers with a £5,000 grant which helped them to run their Rite of Passage Wilderness Weekend mentoring sessions for 30 ex-offenders who were potentially at risk of offending again.

The grant facilitated the start of the men’s positive transformation and enabled the young men to make a fresh, positive start back in their communities.

To date these grants have distributed more than £500,000 to projects designed to cut crime and help victims. This week I am proud to be working with the Cornwall and Devon Community Foundations to launch the 2023 round of grants.

Charities and voluntary groups working to address issues such as antisocial behaviour, drugs and hate crime in Devon and Cornwall can apply for grants of up to £10,000.

I am particularly keen to support community groups working in rural or coastal communities and those facing cost of living challenges.

Antisocial behaviour, drug use and other criminal activities affect people all across our force area, not just those living in highly populated areas, causing feelings of fear and distress in our communities.

Our rural and remote communities by their very nature can feel isolated and unseen, and I want those residents to know that I am as committed to helping them feel safe as I am those in our larger towns and cities.

I urge any organisation that is working to create safe, resilient and connected communities to apply for a grant before the deadline in a few weeks’ time.

Cornwall Community Foundation has two funds available - the Police Property Act Fund, focusing on preventing crime and reducing anti-social behaviour in rural and coastal areas, and the Police & Crime Commissioner’s Community Grants which focuses on projects related to anti-social behaviour, drugs and victims of crime through all of Cornwall.

Devon’s grants schemes, PCC Safer Communities, along with the two CCF funds, opened on September 18 and groups have until Wednesday, November 8, to apply. Grants of up to £10,000 are available in Devon, and up to £5,000 in Cornwall. This funding can include contributions towards running costs to help organisations become more sustainable in the face of rising bills and expenses. 

To apply for a grant in Devon visit

To apply for CCF’s Police Property Act Fund visit

To apply for CCF’s Police & Crime Commissioner’s Community Grant visit