'Consider forging links with your neighbourhood policing team'

Police have been tackling crime in Honiton, Axminster and Colyford over the last few days.

Police have been tackling crime in Honiton, Axminster and Colyford over the last few days. - Credit: Mark Atherton

We live in a low crime rate area - Devon and Cornwall remains the third safest place to live in England and Wales - and even in those areas where crime rates are higher, the chance of becoming a victim of crime remains small.

However, that doesn’t mean that people should not remain vigilant to what is going on within their community. Reporting crime is the most effective way of helping an area to become a safer place in which to live, work and play.

If police aren’t aware of what is happening on the streets, in parks and public spaces, on shopping streets or even in individual houses, one thing is certain - they will be less able to do anything about it.

And the more reports of crime the police receive, the more likely it is that they will get the resources to do something about it.

On Thursday, the Home Office announced how much it intends to give my office towards funding Devon and Cornwall Police in 2022/23. 

I will not be turning my attention to setting the council tax element of the revenues that, together with this grant, make up the entire budget and surveying residents of the force area so you have the chance to shape spending priorities over the next financial year. 

Look out for information in your council tax bill about how this money is spent – the leaflet we distribute is an essential part of transparency.

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Information on recorded crime, when paired up with the annual conversation I have with our communities in the form of a survey, are essential to strategic and budgetary planning. 

If crimes are under reported, there’s a danger that the Chief Constable and I won’t allocate the correct resources to tackling them or appreciate where communities are most suffering.

We all know that in an emergency, if you are a victim of crime or witness something where you think somebody else may be in danger, by calling 999 the police will be able to give you the help, support and reassurance you need to deal with the situation.

But what about reporting things which aren’t an emergency?

What about the times when you might see something happening, see somebody acting suspiciously or hear something that concerns you but doesn’t pose an immediate threat?

By reporting these things, it allows the police to build up a picture of what might be occurring on their patch – but how do you go about reporting that and what will happen to that information if you do?

Although you can call 101, phoning is not the only option. You could also webchat or email a contact centre officer. But did you also know you an make direct contact with your neighbourhood team?

At a recent community meeting in Plymouth, residents raised concerns that they did not know how best to get in touch with their local police.

The police neighbourhood team leader told the meeting that the best way for residents to pass on information to them was to email directly to their team email address.

The simplest way to do this is to visit the police website - devon-cornwall.police.uk – put your postcode into the box that says ‘Find my local police team’ and then hit the ‘Contact policing team’ button. Your message will then be passed to the most appropriate person.

This email address is monitored at least once every day and gives residents direct access to the people who are tasked with keeping them safe.

At the same meeting residents told the officers they were worried that by passing information to the police it would put them at risk of reprisal from criminals.

This gave the local officers the chance to allay those fears and outline what happens to any information they receive, explaining how information is anonymised once it comes into them.

This is really useful information that is worth sharing more widely.

Intelligence is hugely important to the police as it helps them form a picture around all manners of concerns.

It allows them to not only target crime and criminals but also to help find solutions to emerging problems, signposting people to places where they can get help and even making referrals to more appropriate agencies.

Local officers will rely on this intelligence to assess threat, risk and harm and to target resources following an assessment of the risk.

When an individual submits intelligence, by whatever means, that person is referred to as a source.

All received information is anonymised to protect the identity of the person providing it and the police make it a priority to always protect the source.

The intelligence is then submitted to the force computer system but its details are only readable to the submitting officer.

The individual’s details will not appear within the main information being reported and are recorded on a separate screen so they can’t even be read by front line staff.

Every piece of intelligence is assessed and ‘sanitised’ by a trained member of staff within the intelligence department prior to it being readable.

If there is any danger to the source of the intelligence the files will be protected so only members of staff within certain roles can view it.

It is only individuals within these roles that can see the source of intelligence and the local team actioning the intelligence will not see the source details.

In short, the source of the intelligence is always anonymised and will be not be readily accessible to even the police officer actioning.

As stated earlier – reporting concerns to the police is THE best way to make your communities safer so it is really important that people know they can do this without fear of reprisal.

If people have information about crime they can also pass it anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers, which then passes leads onto the relevant force.

I hope this information helps you and your loved ones have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In an emergency: Call 999 immediately

In a non-emergency: Webchat at www.devon-cornwall.police.uk or email 101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk. You can also call free on 101.

To contact your local police team: Email direct via devon-cornwall.police.uk

Contact Crimestoppers: Call: 0800 555111 or report online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org