WEST Devon is the safest place in the country, according to crime statistics last year.
That’s because the police force area is the safest of all the 27 sectors in Devon and Cornwall, which in turn is the safest place in England out of 43 police areas.
Now West Devon’s police chief says he is making a strong case to reopen a public enquiry desk at Tavistock Police Station after Okehampton Police Station recently opened its doors to the public for the first time in a decade.
Okehampton is one of 17 front desks to reopen at police stations across Devon and Cornwall following its closure, along with dozens of others, including Tavistock and Crediton in the 2010s.
The police and crime commissioner says it is part of a plan to improve the police’s engagement.
The inspector for West Devon, Chris Conway, said it is great news that people can once again go into the police station in Okehampton to report crime and get advice, but he is keen that Tavistock doesn’t lose out.
“There has been lots of positive reaction on social media but people do want Tavistock to open again, as do I,” he said.
“I have made representations to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to ask for Tavistock to be considered in this phase or the next one. I am really keen for that to happen this financial year or the next.”
Consideration will be given to crime rates, population size, usage of the phones on the outside of police stations and proximity to the nearest public enquiry office.
Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez brought back enquiry desks because she says she believes “accessible face-to-face policing service delivered in this way hugely improves confidence in local policing” and she said she wasn’t concerned about footfall.
Insp Conway said nine people had visited Okehampton Police Station on one day in the first week.
He said people could still use the police website or live chat to report crime, and should call 999 in an emergency, but some people feel more comfortable going into a police station.
The office is currently open from Mondays to Thursdays from 9am to 2pm but is expected to be open six days-a-week from March.
The inspector said the station employs three front-desk officers who also manage online enquiries when the station isn’t open to the public.
Hundreds of new officers to the force through a national programme has meant that each of the five sectors in West Devon has an extra patrol officer, plus an additional neighbourhood beat manager for Okehampton with a new police community support officer starting in the spring.
Insp Conway continued: “It’s a privilege to work here and we all have a desire to make West Devon the best place it can be,” he said.
Mr Conway said that with 26 miles of the A30 on its patch, road traffic collisions and road safety are his priorities, along with anti-social behaviour (ASB) and drugs.