'How people help us fight crime in East Devon'

Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez has said she will only support a

Devon and Cornwall PCC, Alison Hernandez - Credit: Archant

Regular readers of this column will know that ‘connectivity’ is one of my core principles. I think if police are better linked to the public and other services, then it becomes much easier for us all to pull in the same direction.

There are two examples of that connectivity in action this week.

Firstly, through Operation Scorpion, the joint anti-drugs initiative I am running with four other South West commissioners and our respective police forces.

As you read this there will be enforcement activity going on around the region, with drug dealers being apprehended and dangerous substances and weapons taken off the streets as we send a clear message that the region is ‘no place for drugs’.

This will be linked to a whole lot of educational activity in our schools and colleges to coincide with this, as we attempt to engage with young people at risk of being exploited by criminals who would recruit them as dealers or users, with all the physical and mental harm that goes with that.

As with Operation Medusa a fortnight ago, officers have been able to be well briefed about addresses, individuals and vehicles involved in the drugs trade. That, of course, is a lot to do with the people in our community who are sick of the effects of drugs where they live have been handing intelligence to police.

This link between public and police is absolutely essential so Operation Scorpion will this week have a heavy emphasis on CrimeStoppers, the charity which enables people to pass information on criminality to police without having to give their name.

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We will be touring the region with a CrimeStoppers advertising lorry this week and you will see messaging in the media that should drive the next round of enforcement activity.

It is really vital that we involve our communities in decision-making and providing some of the solutions too. With relatively small amounts of money community groups and grass roots organisations can make a big difference. So that’s why I have made available £187,500 this year for community grants.

Funding is split across my priority areas of antisocial behaviour (ASB), drugs harm reduction, building safer roads and reducing violence. Now it is the turn of organisations in Cornwall who have an idea that might reduce antisocial behaviour (ASB) in their communities to apply for their share of this fund.

Papers going to this week’s Police and Crime Panel, which is made up of local authority members from around Devon and Cornwall who scrutinise my decisions, show that ASB cases have dropped slightly but still account for almost 33,000 cases reported to Devon and Cornwall Police in a recent 12 months. Tackling this is a priority because of the devastating impact even low level ASB can have on victims.

The types of activities eligible for funding might include arts and sports programmes, mentoring schemes or parental support initiatives.

Last year these projects made a huge difference to people who took part in a variety of activities, from helping to kit out a boxing club which was providing activity for young people in St Columb Major, Cornwall, to providing extra support to women who had been assaulted by their partners.

Interested organisations have until August 15 to apply for between £1,000 and £5,000 via a straightforward process run by the Cornwall Community Foundation.

So if your Cornish community has identified a need and thinks this fund might help then please fill out an application by visiting the Cornwall Community Foundation’s website.

And Devon residents do not have to wait long for the next round of funding for our ASB grants scheme here which is due to launch this autumn.

If you are interested in seeing my work and office scrutinised you can do so at Friday’s Police and Crime Panel meeting in the Council House, Plymouth, from 10.30am. Papers and a link to follow this online can be found at Plymouth City Council’s website.