Sidmouth police dealt with all sorts in 2018 - from flying benches to a pensioner stroking an officer’s leg

Sergeant Andy Squires from Sidmouth police. Picture: Alex Walton. Ref shs 6983-28-13AW

Sergeant Andy Squires from Sidmouth police. Picture: Alex Walton. Ref shs 6983-28-13AW - Credit: Archant

Fights on the seafront, flying benches and a pensioner who stroked an officer’s leg are among the things dealt with by Sidmouth police in 2018.

While some were very serious, others were dealt with in good humour - Sergeant Andy Squires revealed the town’s annual crime statistics and rounded up the year at a town council meeting, on Monday.

Sgt Squires revealed 2018’s data and compared it with the whole force - including Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

In Sidmouth, 615 crimes were recorded compared to 106,650 across the force. The total number of incidents recorded in Sidmouth were 1,737 compared to 258,192 across the force, meaning the town’s crime detection rate was 24 per cent.

Sgt Squires also shared one of his funniest stories from the year, after an attempted break-in. He said: “My colleague and I went along and was sat in the dining room talking about CCTV and crime prevention.

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“I was introduced to the husband, the wife, the teenage son and a 92-year-old father. “The wife says just ‘Give dad a wide berth because his eyesight isn’t very good .

“There were two red setters running around and a terrier. I’m suddenly aware of this presence besides me and the father is stood there. All of a sudden he starts stroking my leg which is a bit alarming.

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“Then he says ‘come on Buster you must be hungry it’s time for your supper. At which point my sense of humour rather let me down because before I could retrieve the words, I responded and said ‘Thank you very much sweetie but I’ve eaten and I think your dog is a bit peckish.”

While there have been funny incidents, there have also been others that are the other end of the spectrum.

The number of rural vehicle offences has continued to rise and officers have been visiting car parks to put up notices.

Sgt Squires has also secured funding for 25 vandal- and rain-proof sign frames for the car parks, to display posters.

He said they had also been focusing on the town’s young people.

He added: “There was a bit of a balance to be had between a certain amount of intolerance of young peoples’ activities on one side maybe. But also on the other side there was some genuine criminal damage going on, which could have been quite lethal or fatal if someone had been under the flying park bench at the wrong time. We had to balance both.”

Sgt Squires said they used both enforcement and education approaches. He added EDDC also paid for workshops with Young Devon.

“That worked quite well and we did get them to see it from a more responsible point of view.

“As I thought from the beginning, it was a small minority spoiling it for the majority.”

Sgt Squires said FolkWeek was a bit different in 2018 because of the closure of the town’s last night club.

He added: “From midnight onwards when the pubs closed, those people who would normally be inside Carinas and were a little bit drunk and instead of dancing found themselves fighting and doing silly things on The Esplanade. That is something we weren’t expecting but will look to address this year.”

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