Inspiring confidence by investing in robust policing

Torbay Weekly

Torbay is a fabulous place. Although I’ve lived and worked all over the world, I am proud to call it my home, it always has been and always will be.

We are lucky enough to live in a unique part of the country, with naturally inspiring countryside and coastline creating an environment that sees visitors flocking to it from around the globe. They are drawn here not only by the palm trees, cliffs and beaches but also by a world class hospitality industry that now caters for every whim and budget.

Long gone are the days of poor customer service and drafty hotels. Visitors can now dine in style at some of the country’s finest restaurants (although we still do a cracking line in fish and chips) and investors are justifiably falling over themselves to put their money into a part of the location that - as the world finally unlocks from Covid – promises to deliver handsome returns.

I believe Torbay’s success as a visitor attraction is not simply because of its geography and climate though, it is the warm welcome our communities give to visitors that has people returning year after year, generation after generation.

So what has policing got to do with all this?  Unfortunately, while Torbay has garnered an enviable reputation as a place to live, work and visit it has also shouldered more than its fair share of crime, homelessness, drug abuse and antisocial behaviour.

In 2021, there were 105 crimes per 1,000 people in Torquay, more than double the rate for the Devon and Cornwall Police force area.

The reasons for this are complex but we can all agree that our residents, businesses and visitors deserve better. After a tour of the Bay last summer, the Chief Constable and I are all too aware of the challenges. We met businessmen and women frustrated at the levels of shoplifting, residents fed up with seeing flagrant drug abuse and people sick of the blight of unchecked antisocial behaviour.

We also, however, met some inspiring individuals, who were busy investing their time and money to make a go of trading in south Devon. They were full of ideas for how, together with the support of our public services, they could be part of a solution to a safer, happier, more prosperous Torbay. These are the people employing and training young people, creating that prosperity and providing tax revenues.

We owe it to them, to our residents visitors to do better. That’s why I have invested £200,000 into a Torbay Safer Streets project and the Chief Constable has, through the support of our council tax payers, been able to significantly boost officer numbers in the Bay, adding an additional 19 posts. Of this officer uplift, 15 are on patrol and responding to 999 calls and four are to join the Torquay neighbourhood team.

This substantial uplift in a visible policing presence across Torquay, Brixham and Paignton will reduce crime from occurring in the first place and improve the chances of criminals getting caught and convicted.

This work has already started under Operation Hundred when, last week, officers executed two warrants in Torquay, seizing drugs and a crossbow. The operation combines high visibility patrols with intelligence led raids targeting drug dealers. More will follow.

Our £200,000 investment will focus on the substance misuse and antisocial behaviour in public spaces that Torbay residents have had to put up with for too long. While the policing element will bear down on the criminals exploiting our most vulnerable residents, this funding will assist in providing the infrastructure required to improve safety and reassure the public.

The Greater Torbay initiative has some inspirational and innovative people behind it. My part of that partnership is to ensure that the bedrock of safety, security and public confidence is in place, so we can allow the other elements of the campaign to flourish. I am delighted to be in a position to be able to help an area I love to reach its full potential in this way and look forward to exciting times ahead.

Alison Hernandez
Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall