Devon and Cornwall Police
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|Devon and Cornwall Police|
|Motto||In Auxilium Omnium|
To the assistance of everybody
|Formed||1 April 1967|
|Annual budget||£256.8 million|
|Operations jurisdiction||Devon and Cornwall|
|Map of police area|
|Size||3,961 square miles (10,260 km2)|
|Legal jurisdiction||England & Wales|
|Overviewed by||Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary/Independent Office for Police Conduct|
|Headquarters||Middlemoor, Exeter, Devon|
|Police Officers||3,100 |
|Police and Crime Commissioner responsible|
Devon and Cornwall Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the ceremonial counties of Devon (including the unitary authority areas of Plymouth and Torbay) and Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly). It has the largest geographical police area of any territorial police force in England.
The force was formed on 1 April 1967 by the amalgamation of the Devon and Exeter Police, Cornwall County Constabulary and Plymouth City Police, these three constabularies were an amalgamation of 23 city and borough police forces that were absorbed between 1856 and 1947.
Between 1856 and 1947 police in Devon and Cornwall used a number of different names. They were gradually absorbed into two of the existing forces called Devon and Exeter Constabulary and Cornwall County Constabulary, except Plymouth City Police which remained separate. In 1967 the three remaining forces were amalgamated into one called Devon and Cornwall Constabulary or Devon and Cornwall Police.
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- 1967–1973 Colonel Ronald Berry Greenwood
- 1973–1982 John Cottingham Alderson
- 1982–1984? David Albert East
- 1984?–1989 Donald Elliott
- 1989–2002 Sir John Stanley Evans (knighted in 2000 New Year Honours)
- 2002–2006 Maria Wallis
- 2007–2012 Stephen Otter
- 2013–present Shaun Sawyer
Since 5 May 2016, the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner is Alison Hernandez, who represents the Conservative Party. The police and crime commissioner is scrutinised by the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel, made up of elected councillors from the local authorities in the police area. Before November 2012, the force was governed by the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority.
The force is divided into four Basic Command Units (BCU), each commanded by a Chief Superintendent. Geographically larger BCUs are further split into Local Policing Areas (LPAs), under a Superintendent, which are further sub-divided into Sectors, each under an Inspector. The Plymouth and South Devon BCUs only contain one LPA, being divided directly into sectors. Most sectors contain a police station, while in Plymouth there are numerous neighbourhood bases or police stations (Crownhill, Charles Cross, Plympton, Beacon Park, Devonport Fore St., Devonport Exmouth Rd., Plymstock).
Each BCU will have several specialist teams, including Patrol, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, a Criminal Investigation Department and various pro-active policing units to target persistent criminals and focus on specific operations.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly BCU
East Cornwall geographic LPA
- Bodmin Sector (also Wadebridge)
- Launceston Sector (also Bude, Camelford & Callington
- Liskeard Sector (also Looe, Torpoint, Saltash )
- Newquay Sector (also St Columb Major)
- St Austell Sector (also St Blazey, Fowey, Lostwithiel, Mevagissey and Grampound)
West Cornwall geographic L PA
- Penzance & St Ives Sector (also Hayle & Isles of Scilly)
- Camborne Sector (also Redruth)
- Truro Sector (also Perranporth and Tregony)
- Helston and Falmouth Sector
South Devon BCU
- Teignmouth & Dawlish Sector
- Chudleigh & Ashburton Sector (also Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead)
- Newton Abbot Sector
- Ivybridge Sector
- Kingsbridge & Dartmouth Sector
- Totnes Sector (also South Brent)
- Torquay Sector
- Paignton & Brixham Sector
Exeter East and Mid geographic L PA
- Exeter "Sidmouth Road" Police Station
- Rural East Devon Sector (Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth, Honiton and Ottery St Mary)
- Exmouth & Budleigh Salterton
- Mid-Devon Sector (Cullompton, Crediton and Tiverton)
North and West Devon geographic L PA
- Barnstaple Sector
- Torridge Sector (Bideford, Holsworthy and Torrington)
- North Devon Sector (Ilfracombe, Braunton, South Molton and Lynton)
- Okehampton Sector
- Tavistock Sector
Plymouth geographic area
- Plymouth Central Sector (Charles Cross Police Station)
- Plymouth Devonport and West Sector (Devonport Police Office)
- Plymouth East Sector (Charles Cross Police Station)
- Plymouth North Sector (Crownhill Police Station)
- Plymouth South Sector (Charles Cross Police Station)
Force Contact Centre
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The Force Contact Centre is located at two sites; Police HQ in Middlemoor, Exeter and Crownhill Police Station in Plymouth, both operating 24/7. Calls from all parts of the force are assigned to the next available agent, whichever site they are working from.
Calls are mostly answered by the 185 Contact Officers, who are highly trained civilian staff, with police officers in some supporting and supervisory roles. Both 999/112 and non-emergency calls are answered by multiskilled staff, with other duties including the Force Switchboard, found property recording, crime recording, requests from other police forces, emails from the public, and the force website.
Generally, it is the same staff who answer emergency and non emergency calls, which can lead to delays on the non-emergency line when a large number of 999 calls are presented to the force.
In the 1990s the force operated a '0990' number (0990 777444) for contact from the public. Later, it adopted 0845 777444. In 2011, the force moved to the national Single Non-Emergency Number (SNEN) 101. The conversion to 101 did not change any processes, policies, sites or staff for Devon and Cornwall Police.
A telephone menu serves to triage all non-emergency calls from the public, to ensure that emergency calls are transferred to an emergency operator, non-emergency calls are dealt with promptly, and calls that are not a police matter are referred to the correct agency, or advice given at the first point of contact. The Force Switchboard can also be used to request to speak to individual officers or departments within the organisation.
Radio Dispatch Officers are located in the control rooms at both sites and deploy police officers following calls for service from the Contact Officers. The two control rooms use the national Airwave emergency service secure radio system, which is due to be replaced in the early 2020s.
Since 2014, the Force Contact Centre has been staffed by a mental health professional able to assist operators with dealing with calls involving mental health issues, including potential suicide attempts. This initiative has had a significant impact on the number of persons detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Support is offered to Force Contact Centre staff who have dealt with distressing incidents. Like police officers, Force Contact Centre staff are bound by policy and legislation, but also are supported in using discretion and common sense in dealing with calls for service, taking into account the risk, harm, threat and vulnerability of a caller.
Since early 2015, staff have been encouraged to undertake enhanced suicide intervention training, to act as both a single point of contact for a suicide caller (with the benefits of developing a rapport) and to serve as an intermediate stage between first contact call handlers and police negotiators.
In 2020, calls to 101 became free of charge, nationally.
The contact centre also process web chat and digital reports.
Training for Force Contact Centre staff consists of seven weeks of classroom and in-house tuition, and twelve weeks working with a mentor, with a probationary period of 12 months. In early 2015, a two-year minimum tenure was imposed on recruits into the Force Contact Centre to discourage candidates from using it as a "foot in the door" to other areas of the police environment.
The Contact Centre deals with around 16,000 reports per week during the winter and up to 30,000 reports per week during the peak summer period.
The Operations Department provides uniformed operational support to the force, and is responsible for traffic policing and tactical support.
Roads Policing Unit
Devon and Cornwall Police patrol 20 miles (32 km) of the M5 which has six junctions, as well as many other 'A' roads including the A30, A377, A38, A303, A386, A388, A39, A390, A391, A395, A394 and A376. The unit is split up into seven road policing sectors.
Devon and Cornwall Police has officers that patrol on police motorcycles. Motorcycle officers are exempt from wearing body armour as they have to wear motorcycle leathers.
Force Support Group
The Force Support group (FSG), previously called the Tactical Aid Group (TAG), are predominantly responsible for public order, marine operations, searches and dealing with potentially violent offenders. It is divided into several sections, including two trained in firearms and one in marine operations.
The FSG's Marine Support Unit, also known as Force Support Group (FSG) D Section is responsible for underwater search and marine operations. It consists of one sergeant and six constables, all trained divers, and operates a rigid-hulled inflatable boat capable of 45 knots.
Devon and Cornwall Police have officers that patrol the streets and attend incidents with police dogs. The force mainly use German Shepherds, but also have other types of dogs. The dogs are trained in a variety of roles including drugs dogs, explosives dogs and firearms support dogs. Devon and Cornwall Police are the first police force to train dogs to search for missing persons. The unit, which is headed up by an Inspector, is based at headquarters in Middlemoor, in Exeter.
Armed Response Unit
Devon and Cornwall Police's Armed Response Unit (ARU) is a sub-department of the Operations department that is tasked with responding to incidents where firearms are involved as well as this they partake in traffic duties. The unit responds to incidents with firearms, and are the only officers in the force who are routinely armed.
Air Operations Unit
The Air Operations Unit is now part of the National Police Air Service (NPAS), which at present is based at Exeter International Airport and operates a helicopter that provides support quickly and in remote and dangerous places. Devon and Cornwall Police were the first police force in the country to employ the use of a helicopter full-time when the unit was founded in 1979.
The unit used to use a single MBB/Kawasaki BK 117. DCP took delivery of a Eurocopter EC145 in April 2010, with its call sign being OSCAR 99, but it is now known as NPAS 44. The unit can scramble in two minutes and can reach most areas of the force within 15 minutes. With the advent of the NPAS in October 2012, the helicopter and associated assets move from D&C Police to NPAS, and the staff are currently on secondment to the NPAS. The helicopter has moved to Exeter International Airport, and the staff move to NPAS; thus D&C no longer have an independent air support unit, but use the NPAS to cover their resource needs.
Force Crime Department
The Force Crime Department contains the central units of the force's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which also has detectives attached to the larger police stations. It is headed by the Force Crime Manager, a Detective Chief Superintendent.
Major Crime Branch
The Major Crime Branch deals with serious crimes such as murder, kidnap, fraud and paedophilia and with crimes that cross boundaries between BCUs and require co-ordination. It contains three Detective Superintendents, all of whom are Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs).
- The Major Incident Support Team (MIST) provides training and support for major incidents and operations both for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and the States of Jersey Police.
- The four Major Crime Investigation Teams (MCIT) based at Newquay, Plymouth, South West Devon and Exeter investigate murders and other suspicious deaths and provide specialist investigative support to CID officers throughout the force.
- The Economic Crime Section is divided into five separate units:
- The Financial Investigation Unit mainly deals with the investigation of all confiscation cases under the Drug Trafficking Act 1994, Criminal Justice Act 2003 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. They deal with seizures of over £10,000 and investigate drug trafficking and money laundering offences.
- The Fraud Squad deals with major fraud cases and allegations of corruption by public officials and bodies.
- The Hi-Tech Crime Unit is responsible for the forensic examination of computer equipment to gather evidence for prosecution in a variety of cases.
- The Paedophile Unit investigates allegations of child sexual abuse.
- The Cheque and Credit Card Fraud Squad investigates the theft and misuse of cheques, credit cards and debit cards.
Covert Operations Unit
- The Technical Support Unit provides expertise on video, audio, alarms, tracking and positioning systems.
- The Covert Operations Support Unit co-ordinates force-wide covert operations and training and also handles witness protection.
- The Force Surveillance Unit (FSU) has sections based in Plymouth and Exeter and provides the force's main covert surveillance capability throughout its area.
The Intelligence Unit collects, collates and distributes intelligence and information of use to the force.
- The Force Intelligence Centre is the main intelligence organ and is staffed by specialists in a variety of criminal areas.
- The Force National Computer Bureau (FNCB) runs the force's contribution and access to the British Police National Computer (PNC) system.
- Special Branch is in charge of counterterrorism and other national security matters.
- The Crime Standards Unit reviews crime reports to ensure that the fullest possible response has been made, analyses crime reports, and processes and researches intelligence.
Performance and Co-ordination Unit
The Performance and Co-ordination Unit is responsible for maintaining investigative standards throughout the force.
- The Dedicated Source Unit deals with information sources in line with national regulations and standards.
- The Victim Centred Crime Unit formulates and ensures best practice with regard to issues such as child protection, domestic violence, harassment, missing persons, vice and victim support.
- The Control Strategy Crime Reduction Unit formulates and ensures best practice with regard to crime control and reduction.
- The Covert Standards and Authorities Unit ensures force compliance with legislation allowing police forces to contravene the Human Rights Act.
- The Policy and Performance Unit formulates policy for the whole Force Crime Department.
Scientific and Technical Services Unit
The Scientific and Technical Services Unit analyses forensic evidence gathered by scenes of crime officers based at police stations and provides other technical services to the force. The unit has its own forensic pathologist, the only police-employed pathologist in Britain.
- The Central Submissions Unit handles the reception and supervision of all DNA samples and enters the details on the UK National DNA Database.
- The Chemical and Optical Unit enhances and records fingerprints and palmprints on items recovered from crime scenes.
- The Fingerprint Bureau analyses fingerprints and palmprints, feeds them into national databases and collates the results.
- The Photographic Unit provides all the force's photographic needs.
- The Firearms Unit is responsible for all firearms training, planning and licensing.
- The Contingency Planning Unit formulates long-term plans to deal with major incidents, including security for VIP visits, counterterrorist operations and reaction to terrorist attacks.
- The Force Planning and Consultation Unit formulates policy and plans and monitors public opinion on policing matters.
- The Professional Standards Unit deals with force discipline and complaints against officers.
Uniforms and equipment
In 2020, the force moved to a gender neutral position on headwear, permitting any officer to wear a (traditionally) male or female hat.
Traditionally, male police officers of the rank of constable or sergeant wear the custodian helmet when on foot patrol and as part of formal dress. A peaked cap with a chequered Sillitoe tartan band is worn by more senior male officers, and when on mobile patrol in vehicles.
Traditionally, female officers wear a bowler hat, also with Sillitoe tartan, under all circumstances.
Traffic police headgear is the same as that for any other vehicle patrol but has a white rather than a black top, originally designed to aid visibility before the advent of fluorescent fabrics.
PCSOs wear a peaked cap or bowler hat, but with a blue band.
Tri Service Safety Officers (TSSOs) wear a peaked cap or bowler, with a grey band.
When on operational duty, officers wear black wicken layer tops with black trousers and a black fleece with POLICE written on the chest and back. All officers are required to wear stab vests when on operational duty. Collar numbers for constables and sergeants, along with rank insignia for sergeants and above are worn either on epaulettes on the shoulder, or on patches on the upper arm, depending on the item of clothing. PCSOs wear a similar uniform, but with blue epaulettes rather than black.
Formal dress comprises an open-necked tunic, and a white shirt/blouse with a black tie for officers of all genders. Constables and sergeants have collar numbers on their epaulettes, sergeants wear rank insignia on their sleeve, while all higher-ranked officers wear name badges and their rank on their epaulettes. Gloves are sometimes worn.
From 2018, both officers and PCSOs were provided with personal issue Combat Application Tourniquets for first aid and self aid purposes.
From 2019, officers were issued with Spit Guards, a transparent mesh that covers a suspects face should they spit at officers.
Devon and Cornwall Police use many different makes of vehicles from several different car manufacturers for different purposes. All marked, operational vehicles use yellow and blue retro-reflective battenberg markings, with the force's crest. The older 'jam sandwich' style markings were phased out between 2000 and 2005.
Officers killed in the line of duty
The Police Roll of Honour Trust lists and commemorates all British police officers killed in the line of duty. The Police Memorial Trust since its establishment in 1984 has erected over 38 memorials to some of those officers.
Since 1814, the following officers of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and its predecessors were killed while attempting to prevent or stop a crime in progress:
- Town Sergeant Joseph Burnett, 1814 (shot attempting to disarm two drunken soldiers)
- PC William Bennett, 1875 (injured arresting a man for assault)
- PC Walter Creech, 1883 (stabbed by a man he warned)
- PC John Tremlett Potter, 1938 (fatally injured by two burglars he disturbed)
- PC Dennis Arthur Smith, 1973 (shot by a suspect he was pursuing)
- PC Christopher Francis Wilson, 1977 (Contracted a fatal illness after being spat on during a disturbance at a football match)
- PC Joseph James Childs and PC Martin Ross Reid, 1978 (Drowned after their car was swept into the sea during a storm)
This section needs to be updated.February 2021)(
Devon and Cornwall are amongst the safest counties in the UK, with the 4th lowest crime rate per 1000 people in England. Recorded crime dropped by 12% between June 2009 and July 2010, compared to an 8% drop across England and Wales. In this survey, there were drops in all categories of crime except sexual offences and drug crimes, accounted for by increased reporting and more effective targeting of drug offences. Confidence in the police and public perceptions of crime were also better than the national average.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary graded Devon and Cornwall Police as 'fair' for confidence and satisfaction, and 'good' on local crime and policing and protection from serious harm. In detail they were graded as 'excellent' for reducing crime, suppressing gun crime and suppressing knife crime. They were rated 'low/medium' for all sections of 'value for money' including cost of policing, cost per household, number of officers and PCSO's and proportion of policing cost met from council tax.
Strength and recruitment
Devon and Cornwall Police employs 6,067 people and 505 volunteers. Of which 3,529 are Police Officers, 354 Police Community Support Officers, 465 Special Constables and 2184 are civilian staff. Devon and Cornwall Police has a Police Support Volunteer scheme.
Training for new recruits in Devon and Cornwall is held at the Headquarters in Middlemoor. For Constables, it consists of eight months' training and a two-year probationary period. For Special Constables it consists of 3 months of online learning and practical weekends training and a two-year probationary period or less, dependent on the number of tours of duty. For PCSOs, it consists of 18 weeks' training and a 15-weeks probationary period. Recruits receive their warrant card and uniform in the first two months of training.
Proposed regional merger
In 2006, the Home Office announced plans to reduce the number of police forces in the UK from 42 to 24 in an attempt to save money. The plans were abandoned later that year due to lack of funding for the mergers, however the idea has resurfaced many times.
The plans were criticised by all the involved forces, stating that it would lead to poor quality service and a reduction in local policing.
The program of austerity from 2011 had an impact on the force:
- The rural crime grant, worth £1.8M to Devon & Cornwall, about the cost of 70 officers, was abolished.
- The central government grant was cut by 20%.
- In comparison to other forces, the council tax precept was low. Rises in the precept were capped by central government.
The organisation was forced to cut officers, from 3,500 to 2,810. It also had to cut PCSOs and police ltaff, losing around 350 posts. Many stations were closed and sold, controversially including a brand new station at St Columb Major. The service offered to the public was scaled back: for example in the past victims of car crime or burglary would have seen an officer in person. Since the austerity cuts, the majority of these crimes are 'desktop investigated' by a centralised team.
A partial reversal of the cuts was announced in 2019 by the (then) new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who pledged to replace 20,000 of the 21,000 officers cut in England and Wales since 2011.
Devon & Cornwall officer numbers are not expected to return to their 2010 levels until 2023. There are no plans nationally to reverse the cut in police staff.
Proposed merger with Dorset
Later, from 2015, plans to merge with Dorset Police were brought to an advanced stage and an outline business case supplied to the Home Office. In the final stage of talks, three of the four parties agreed to proceed, being the Chief Constables of both forces and the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) of Dorset. However, Devon & Cornwall PCC Alison Hernandez withdrew her support for the merger, in a u-turn. It is thought her change of heart was a result of pressure from the local authorities, notably members of Cornwall Council and Torbay Council and the plans were shelved.
Devon and Cornwall Police Pipes and Drum Band
The Devon and Cornwall Police Pipes and Drum Band is a band made up of pipe and drums players who play on behalf of the police force in aid of charity. The band plays at fundraising events for Devon Air Ambulance, Help for Heroes and other events, as well at police occasions such as officer graduations.
The band is made up of officers and employees of Devon and Cornwall Police, as well as some members who are not related to the police. The band is not funded or related to the police force but do have permission to use their name and uniform.
Devon and Cornwall Police Rugby Football Club
The Devon and Cornwall RFC was formed in 1967 following the amalgamation of the Devon, Cornwall and Plymouth Constabularies clubs. A few midweek and Sunday games were played and players were encouraged to play for club sides on Saturdays. However the Saturday team was disbanded in May 1995 due to operational commitments. Today the force still manages to bring together a team when necessary, and play in the National Cup Competition every year.
In 2015, BBC News Online reported that the force had been involved in a number of social media "blunders", including officers making inappropriate use of Facebook and Twitter, and a Twitter campaign image that had to be withdrawn when it was pointed out that it appeared to depict a police riot officer beating a person lying on the ground with a truncheon.
Stella the Dog
Stella was a dog that was seized in 2014. Devon and Cornwall Police said the pit bull-type dog was considered potentially dangerous. The department put the dog in a 3 ft by 9 ft cage in Devon until 2016 when a destruction order for Stella was passed by Torquay Magistrates' Court. The dog was reported to have not had exercise and was left in the cage for 24 hours a day for nearly two years. The courts had until 8 March 2016 to appeal the euthanasia of Stella. Sgt Allan Knight, from the Devon and Cornwall Police dog handling unit, said: "There will always be some dogs who cannot get walked by staff because of the danger they possess. We are bound by the court process."
Deaths attributed to Devon and Cornwall Police
There have been a number of deaths of members of the public who have come into contact with Devon and Cornwall police.
- Thomas Orchard, 32, was arrested and taken to a police station in Exeter, where he was restrained, in October 2012. He died in hospital seven days later.
- Marc Cole, 30, died in Falmouth, Cornwall, in May 2017 after a taser was deployed for 42 seconds, resulting in a cardiac arrest. He had taken cocaine the same day. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) concluded the performance of its officers was not below standard.
- Andrew Pimlott, 32, died from burns in April 2013. Pimlott, who had drenched himself in fuel, was tasered, which ignited the fuel and caused his burns.
- Leslie ‘Les’ Douthwaite, 38, died in April 2015 after being restrained, face down, by police.
- John Coysh, 35, died in police custody in September 2016, from cardiac arrythmia during alcohol withdrawal.
- Simeon Francis, 35, died in a cell in Torquay police station on 20 May 2020 after being arrested in Exeter.
The force receives 500 to 800 emergency 999 calls daily, many of which will be in relation to persons in need to immediate help.[original research?] Devon and Cornwall Police also receive 2,000 to 2,500 non emergency 101 calls each day, some of which will involve ongoing risk issues, such as safeguarding of vulnerable adults and children.[original research?] For example, Devon and Cornwall dealt with 5,151 missing person reports in the year ending January 2016. The force deployed firearms officers on 351 occasions in the year ending March 2020. These same statistics show that police nationally actually fired conventional firearms on only five occasions across England and Wales for the same period.
- List of law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories
- Law enforcement in the United Kingdom
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