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Statement on behalf of the Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

CC Sawyer.jpg

I wish to reaffirm our commitment to investigating all forms of hate crime.

I am aware of the comments made by Chief Constable Sara Thornton, a colleague whom I respect, and Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

I appreciate the debate she was trying to encourage in relation to resourcing and policing priorities, however the link to misogyny is unhelpful if it prevents victims of hate crime, in any form, from having confidence in reporting it to the police.

Hate crime is a serious matter and one that continues to be a priority for Devon and Cornwall Police.

Issues including misogyny and misandry, when linked to hate, are distressful. They can become the root causes that lead to more serious matters down the line, including stalking and harassment.

Devon and Cornwall Police in 2016 launched a Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime Campaign on the back of increasing intolerance. This campaign reinforces the importance of understanding the value of difference within our communities and encourages everyone to challenge inappropriate behaviours. We can all play a part to make Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly a welcoming place where people can live without fear.

We recognise the trauma and negative impact for the victim, which can be life lasting and life changing and my message to the public is hate crime is not ok, it is not trivial and is not suited to the times we live in.

I want you to continue to report hate crime and hate related incidents to us; without these matters being shared with us, we are unable to gain a better understanding of the true level of these negatively impacting crimes and incidents.

We will investigate hate crimes thoroughly and will ensure our response is fitting to the severity of the incident.

We will look to evoke a learning and understanding that will prevent unwanted behaviour being continued and not automatically criminalise people, and for example, where the victim chooses there is the opportunity to consider community resolution or restorative justice.

That said, if there is anti-social behaviour or a continuation of unacceptable and malicious behaviour, then we will look to prosecute through the criminal justice process. 

We will continue to work closely with our partners who work tirelessly to support victims across all diverse communities both directly and via our Victim Care Unit.

However, it is important to note the backdrop to CC Thornton’s comments which were fuelled by her frustrations over police funding – a view which I and many other Chief Constable’s share.

With 20,000 fewer officers since 2010 due to continuing government cuts to our budget, policing within the UK, including Devon and Cornwall does not have the resources to investigate all crimes equally, and decisions are having to be made on what we can and can’t put our resources into.

This is alongside an unprecedented increase in the reporting of sexual offences, as well as new crime trends including digital crimes.

The adage of ‘cuts have consequences’ remains true, and simply put we need greater funding from the Government to help us protect our communities, better.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer


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