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Devon & Cornwall Police put “special measures” in place after an “incredibly disturbing” inspection

The decision to put Devon and Cornwall police into special measures has been described as “incredibly worrying” by one Devon MP.

Labor MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Luke Pollard, hit back after the national watchdog for police and fire services announced it was stepping up monitoring of the force due to its poor performance in tackling crimes involving sex, violence and anti-social behaviour.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said it was also concerned about the slow response of police in Devon and Cornwall to non-emergency calls.

HMICFRS continuously monitors the performance of all police services in England and Wales through a two-stage process. All police forces are automatically in the “scanning” phase, but can be escalated to “engagement” if concerns are raised; to effectively place forces in special measures.

Announcing the move, the inspectorate said it was bringing Devon and Cornwall Police into an engagement phase because:

  • The unit’s crime record has deteriorated since the last inspection. The inspectorate said the force does not always record crimes against vulnerable victims, particularly violent or behavioral and anti-social behaviour.
  • The force does not answer or respond to emergency or other calls within reasonable time frames and too many calls are dropped. There is a lack of identification of repeat and vulnerable callers and callers are not always given appropriate advice on preserving evidence or preventing crime
  • The force is unable to adequately deal with registered sex and violent offenders, meaning that the increasing risk of further offending may not be identified.
  • Responding to the announcement, Luke Pollard MP said: “This is incredibly worrying news. We must have faith in our police.

“I have written to the Temporary Chief Constable (T/CC) and the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner to ask for a meeting to find out how our police force will be put back on track.

HM Constabulary Inspector Wendy Williams said: “We move the force to our enhanced level of monitoring, known as Engage, when the unit does not respond to our concerns or if they do not manage, mitigate or eradicate those concerns.

“The Engage process provides additional control and support.

“Devon and Cornwall Police has been asked to urgently develop an improvement plan and will meet regularly with our inspectors. We will work closely with the armed forces to monitor their progress against these important and necessary changes.”

It comes as the new Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police was officially selected last month. Will Kerr is currently Deputy Chief Constable in Scotland and is yet to take up the role.

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