We’ve got an extra £2.6m – now we’ve got to ensure it makes a difference

Police appeal for help following break-in at Weston Helicopter Museum,

Funding has been secured to make parts of Devon and Cornwall safer - Credit: Archant

The Commissioner's column with Alison Hernandez.

Devon and Cornwalls Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez . Picture: OPCC

Devon and Cornwalls Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez . Picture: OPCC - Credit: Archant

This week I have some fantastic news to share. My office, working with partners in local authorities and Devon and Cornwall Police, have secured another £1,762,571 of Government funding for projects to make people in Truro, Barnstaple and Torbay safer.

The cash comes from the fourth round of funding via the Home Office’s Safer Streets programme. With previous successful bids for Exeter, Falmouth and Plymouth my team are now practised at these applications and this is the largest sum we’ve obtained for our communities through this channel.

Together with match funding from my office and others the total amount available is in excess of £2.6m.

Our bids were focussed on reducing violence against women and girls and antisocial behaviour. If we get the delivery of these projects right I also expect them to have a positive impact on crimes like shoplifting, public order and criminal damage.

The sum secured for Torbay is the most significant, at £749,137, with a further £382,020 invested by partners. The bid area covers Torquay town centre, the harbour, Torre, Lower Ellacombe, Belgrave and Torre Abbey.

Torbay residents can expect to see graffiti removed, more police on the beat, mobile CCTV cameras operating and a raft of other improvements.

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Op Hundred, the South Devon policing team’s project to get more officers on patrol in the community, is already in action, supported significantly by the uplift in police numbers.

A ‘safe night out’ programme will work with the Bay’s vibrant bar and restaurant scene through things like the relaunch of the Best Bar None programme, which sees responsible licensed premises working together to keep those who threaten their customers out of their businesses.

Next summer residents and visitors to the Bay will be reassured by extra street marshals, funded by this programme, to support the extra policing effort.

A community innovation fund will make £30,000 available to reclaim public spaces like parks and seating areas. This approach has worked wonders in Stonehouse, Plymouth, the beneficiary of an earlier round of Safer Streets funding, because it has been engaged and been run by local residents.

In Truro the £664,802 from Safer Streets will be match funded with an additional £362,797. These monies will be spent in the city centre, Highertown and Malabar.

A significant sum will be invested in engaging young people, with awareness programmes at Penwith and Truro Colleges and the setting up of an information hub for students.

A project to divert people away from some of the antisocial behaviour that has blighted parts of Truro in recent years will be set up, more youth workers will be employed, and a psychiatric nurse will help those with complex needs. As in Torquay, this funding will also help clean up graffiti and make improvements to public areas and pay for high visibility patrols.

I was in Truro earlier this month and was impressed with the policing and council team working there so am delighted we are able to bolster and support their good work with this extra resource.

There is a view amongst some North Devon residents that because their area is geographically isolated they are overlooked when it comes to funding of this nature, so I’m really pleased the bid we put together with North Devon Council for £348,632 was successful. Partners will add another £179,126 in match funding to pay for a raft of measures including a street marshal team to be deployed in the town centre for around a year, a youth intervention officer and a range of initiatives to improve safety at night.

In all three areas there will also be a big push on communications to encourage the reporting of crime. Last week we were told by the Office of National Statistics that we had less recorded crime in the year to March than 43 police force areas bar one. If we all ensure we report more crime we may lose this enviable position, but that’s worth it if we get a more accurate picture of offending in return.

As I said at the start of this column, I am delighted that we’ve been successful in these applications, and I’d like to thank all of those who worked with my office on these complex projects so far. However, the real work to ensure it makes a difference starts now.