'Think twice before taking risks that radically increase the chances of being hurt'

east devon

The waves crashing over the esplanade at Sidmouth - Credit: Alex Walton

Ensuring that policing is effective and public money spent efficiently is an important part of my job, so it is vital that my team and I have a good understanding of data and statistics.

So it was fascinating to hear Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter – one of the country’s leading statisticians – discussing his analysis of Covid-19 deaths recently.

There is a considerable debate as to the effectiveness of lockdowns in saving life versus the damage that they caused to the economy and people’s mental health, but Prof Spiegelhalter’s surprise finding was that they are estimated to have saved the lives of around 300 young people.

These are people who in the same period without restrictions would have been expected to have been killed in incidents like road traffic collisions or crimes that never occurred because we were all at home.

Does the professor, therefore, believe that we should continue to keep young people at home to reduce the risk for them? Of course not, and neither do I.

This time last year English children faced a slew of regulations as lockdown three gripped the country. What a different situation there is now. A huge investment in a world-leading vaccination programme has allowed restrictions to be all but removed.

February half term will deliver a much-needed shot in the arm to a tourism sector that so many of us rely on. And as our children return to something approaching normality and longer daylight hours show us that spring is virtually upon us, we would expect to see calls for help to our police and victim services rise steadily towards a peak in the middle of summer.

The force cannot manage this increase in calls for service without our help, and we can all do our bit to reduce demand on the police, ambulance and fire crews, by exercising just a little caution on our roads and in our neighbourhoods.

These police officers, firefighters and medics have just worked flat out around the clock to keep Devon and Cornwall going as it was battered by Storm Eunice. And while most heeded the red weather warning and stayed indoors some took unreasonable risks such as sea swimming in huge waves and driving high sided vehicles on exposed roads.

Not only does such behaviour place the participant in danger but it also sucks up resources that might be required elsewhere.

So as many of us will be enjoying a well-deserved break and venturing out and about this half term, my plea is a simple one – please be considerate to one another and think twice before taking risks that radically increase the chances of being hurt.