Police will not be responding to calls concerning people not wearing face masks when they become mandatory in some settings this week, says Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez.
Next week it will be mandatory for people to wear face coverings when they go to shops and other enclosed spaces – fixed penalty notices of £100 can be issued to people who do not follow the rules.
However, Ms Hernandez said police officers would not be responding to calls which only involved someone not wearing a face covering.
She said: “It will be just as we do now with Covid, the police work on the four Es so they engage people, they encourage people, they educate people and they enforce – that may not be the right order – but they will still be doing that.
“But as has happened already probably in the last month is we are now back to normal policing, so they are rising back to the levels that they were before and we are moving back into ordinary policing.
“But the expectation is that they will only come if there is disorder or violence or something associated with it, they are not going to come to every phone call that someone is not wearing a mask.
“Partly that will help with the street marshall teams because that will help to encourage people to follow the guidelines as well.
“And they have been – we were one of the first areas in the country to issue them (fines) but we are only talking 986. So in the tens of thousands of people that police came across it was only 986 fixed penalty notices.”
Ms Hernandez was speaking in Truro, where she met street marshalls who have been provided in the city to help with policing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Hernandez went on a walkabout with the street marshalls along with city mayor Bert Biscoe and MP Cherilyn Mackrory.
She said her office had provided funding for the marshalls after towns indicated that they would be of assistance during the summer months.
The police and crime commissioner said that towns were provided with a number of options of schemes which could be funded and that Truro, along with other towns in the two counties, chose street marshalls.
She said: “What we ended up having in Devon was armed response officers for public order going along and that was not appropriate, you don’t want policing like that because it looks a bit policey, so we needed a better solution and we came up with this idea.
“That is why this came about really because we just don’t want armed response officers patrolling beaches.”
With tourists now able to visit the South West, Ms Hernandez also commented on how the approach to policing was different this summer.
“We know we are the number one tourist destination in the country, we found out today that we are the number one lowest crime rate in the country, in England and Wales, which actually we have never been number one before so we are really proud of that.
She added that she hoped the street marshalls would help with preventing any incidents in the areas where they are based.
While Devon and Cornwall was named as the lowest crime area in the country this week, it was also revealed that while most crime had dropped during lockdown, the number of domestic violence incidents had not fallen.
Ms Hernandez said: “Domestic violence is one of the only crimes that during Covid didn’t reduc. During Covid there was a 20 per cent reduction immediately within the first couple of weeks of lockdown, domestic violence didn’t go down.
“It stayed at the same point as it did last year. We were expecting there would be challenges with domestic abuse so we have a lot of extra services to help.
“The first thing we did was the 24/7 online webchat for victim support and their telephone number so if they don’t want to go the police they can get help 24/7, that was set up straight away.”
She also highlighted Operation Encompass which helps those who are working with children who may experience domestic abuse.
“We are trying all these different ways to help with domestic abuse in terms of children as well as families.”