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Mid Devon is a good place to live, work and grow up

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

DEVON and Cornwall Police Sector Inspector for Mid Devon, Gareth Twigg, has written an open letter regarding BBC Spotlight’s coverage of the HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) report about police recording of crime which was aired on Thursday, May 1. He wrote: As the police inspector covering Mid Devon, an area I hasten to add where my family live, work and go to school, I was dismayed by the article and the lack of invitation to provide a balance from a police perspective. The report focussed on Tiverton and suggested that locally my officers have not been recording crime ethically and appeared to be used to air general grievances about the police. The full HMIC report has not yet been released, only headline information, and it is unfortunate that in their haste to get this story out the BBC haven’t waited for the detail or the facts that relate to our part of the world. The truth is that in Mid Devon we have some of the most dedicated and committed officers and staff I have ever had the pleasure to work with in my 20 years of policing. There is a genuine drive to reduce crime and to deal effectively and appropriately with those who do break the law. Yes, we do have to consider our performance against targets, but I joined the police with a genuine passion to help people and to do the right thing. The suggestion that statistics mean more to me than that I find insulting. We have processes in place to ensure that matters that should be subject of a crime report are recorded. Holding my hands up, there may be incidents in the past which, under national guidelines, should have been recorded but where locally we may have taken a common sense approach. On these few occasions, there would never have been an intention to mislead (in fact, there wouldn’t even have been a thought about figures) - it would have been about being sensible and proportionate. An example of this might be where an elderly local person goes to the garage and forgets to pay for their petrol. On police attendance it’s found that the person is a little forgetful due to age and is horrified that they forgot to pay. They immediately return to the garage and settle their bill. Under the guidelines, this matter should be recorded as a crime and a record of the elderly person created and attached. I know that the police are not perfect, despite our best efforts. There are areas where we can improve and despite budgetary constraints we are working hard to deliver the best service we can. When we don’t get it right I’d urge members of the public to speak to us directly so we can get better at what we do. Mid Devon is undoubtedly one of the safest areas of the country. That needs to be celebrated. It is somewhere where people should want to live and where businesses should want to invest, something which can be easily undermined by imprecise reporting. Unfortunately, crime statistics are used politically and this can reflect badly on the police as interpretations are used to score political points. However, the reality, as borne out in independent surveys, is that crime in this country has dropped over the last 10 years. That isn’t just down to the police. Good partnership working has reaped rewards; in Mid Devon there is a strong Community Safety Partnership which includes Local Action Groups (LAGs). Also, greater links between police and the wider community have been vital in allowing us to target our resources effectively. Intelligence from the public and determined work by my team saw our top six most active criminals locked up in prison over the Christmas period (including a male involved in burglaries at Bampton - see the BBC report). The reason for this letter is to provide a little balance following the BBC report which may have knocked public confidence and undermined the morale of local police staff. The key messages from me are: Mid Devon is a good place to live, work and grow up; your local police and partners are working hard to keep it that way; public support through taking on board crime prevention advice or through engaging with your local police team is vital. Gareth Twigg Sector Inspector Mid Devon

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