Exmouth is not sold short, say police

The police have said the force must ‘move with the times’ after the Journal was told by an officer the town was being sold short of police cover

The police have defended claims made by an officer that Exmouth is being sold short of police cover.

Concerned by changing shift patterns and cuts to the police service, an officer has spoken to the Journal with the hope of forcing change by highlighting the problems publicly.

Devon and Cornwall police said it acknowledged the force faced greater challenges with the shift changes and cuts, but said officers must move with the times.

The officer, who does not want to be identified, said Exmouth’s response police team – also similar teams based at Honiton and Axminster - were frequently expected to deal with Sidmouth’s 999 calls, on a ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ basis.

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Police manpower at the stations, including Exmouth, was reduced when response officers were drafted in to deal with Sidmouth’s emergency calls, the officer said.

Shift patterns were inflexible, resulting in local beat bobbies unable to attend community functions, such as PACT or council meetings, the officer added.

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The officer said morale at Exmouth was low as the result of the ‘inflexible duty scheme’ – saying the police were not being afforded flexibility to best help the public.

The officer said: “Change needs to happen. To ignore the current climate isn’t an option. To do that would be failing the public.

“The chief is doing the best he can in the circumstances, with dwindling funding and resources, to serve the public.

“Everybody, from the chief to the rest of us, wants to serve the public.

“Too many resources are dwindling and we are having to use our imagination to make it work.”

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said the force had scrapped its geographical boundaries in favour of response hubs.

He said response teams were not tied to one area and patrolled frequently. The spokesman said: “People don’t like change, but they have got to move on.

“In these times of financial constraint, we have got to move to a model that is for the public. The public get a better response now.

“Just because the response hub is based in Exmouth, doesn’t mean they stay in Exmouth for their shift. They will move into other arrears during their shift. Anyone dialling 999 will get the nearest response. It could be a dog handler, it could be a traffic officer or a neighbourhood beat officer in the next street.”

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