A little respect goes a long way to reducing summer tensions

Members of police staff operate the 999 emergency phone lines in the control room at Exeter Police H

Members of police staff operate the 999 emergency phone lines in the control room at Exeter Police HQ, Devon, ahead of the G7 summit - Credit: PA

Unless you’ve been in self-isolation (which unfortunately many of you might have been) you will have noticed that the Devon and Cornwall summer tourism season is well and truly upon us.

The Chief Constable and I toured a sweltering Torquay on Thursday, speaking to traders and residents about some of the issues they face, and it was apparent that already many thousands of visitors were out and about enjoying the resort and its beaches – and that was a day before the schools broke up.

The issues there are similar or the same to those elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall. The solutions are not merely for the criminal justice system. While police enforcement has an important role in dealing with issues like drug dealing, exploitation and violence, it is wider society that has a part to play in making Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly even nicer places to live and work.

People around our patch are fed up with inconsiderate behaviour, whether that be aggressive driving, littering, problem parking and dog fouling. Much of this is not strictly criminal but nonetheless it blights lives.

I am therefore pleased to be the lead for antisocial behaviour for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and look forward to working with experts to find solutions to tackling this nation-wide issue.

While crime data for Devon and Cornwall out last Wednesday (July 21) for the year to March showed a 9.7% decrease in crime, due largely to the effect of Covid-19 restrictions, there was a worrying 16.3% rise in public order offences. Something I am very concerned about.

The boost in population to Devon and Cornwall which we’ll now see as the schools have broken up means police are extra busy. Staff in force contact centres dealt with more than 24,000 calls, emails and webchats to the 101 non emergency number and the 999 emergency number last week – levels of demand that until relatively recently only occurred around New Year’s Eve.

Most of the additional incidents police are called to in the summer will not be crime related. Searches for vulnerable missing people, road traffic collisions, coastal rescues and calls for help from people in mental health crisis all increase between May and October.

Understanding this rise in calls for help and being part of the solution to reducing demand on the force at this busy period is something we can all assist with. By showing respect to one another, whether that be on the roads, around our coastal communities and in our cities and towns we can reduce the tension that too often overspills into aggression, upset and ultimately emergency services involvement

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