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Police force flexes to protect society’s most vulnerable during coronavirus outbreak

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An update from Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Police says it will flex to maintain public safety and protect society’s most vulnerable members as the coronavirus (Covid-19) health emergency continues.

The force has rapidly reallocated resource from back office functions to frontline policing to build resilience. At least 125 officers have been redeployed in the past week, with 40 instructed to handle phone calls and Sergeants given custody training.

More incidents will be handled over the phone or via the force’s digital communications systems to reduce the risk to staff and the public of spreading the virus, and the public will be asked to be patient as the force may take more time to follow up reports relating to lower-level crimes.

Priority of response will be given to maintaining public order, situations of violence or where life is in danger and where a vulnerable person is involved.

Since ‘stay at home’ measures were introduced the force has seen a significant reduction in reports of some crimes, such as those related to the evening and night-time economy and motoring, while domestic abuse has increased.

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Requests for police attendance and the investigations of crimes will be ranked on a basis of the threat, risk and harm and will be responded to proportionately.

“When policing is under strain, from either demand or capacity issues, some services will have to be reduced – such as historic investigations that have a low risk attached to them. We will always focus on core policing and serious and violent crime.”

The force is asking people to observe the latest advice on staying at home to reduce spread of the virus and demand on the NHS. Officers have been speaking people in public spaces and residents are advised that they may be asked about their reasons for being out in public.

“It is vital that victims of crime understand that there are no types of crime which we will not respond to or log and we will not stop arresting people,” the spokesperson added.

“We are set up, with tried and tested business continuity procedures, to respond with partners to precisely these situations. In the past fortnight the force has demonstrated that it can make rapid and positive changes to the way it operates to respond to a major incident.

“We will continue our day-to-day policing and will be visible in our communities. If we come across people choosing to break the rules set up to protect society’s most vulnerable, we will take action.”

Members of the public are asked to think twice before they contact the force so officers are able to respond to the most pressing matters.

The police are working with other partners and leading the Local Resilience Forum, which is advising anyone with coronavirus symptoms of a persistent cough and a high temperature to stay at home for seven days from the moment symptoms begun, if they live alone.

Anyone living with others with symptoms of coronavirus illness must stay at home for seven days from the onset of symptoms, other residents of the household must remain home for 14 days. Full information is available on the gov.uk website.

Please think carefully before contacting the police and unless an emergency for which you should still call 999, consider reporting online at devon-cornwall.police.uk or using webchat before calling the 101 non-emergency reporting tool.

Crime can be reported anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Victims of crime can receive practical and emotional support by getting in touch with the Devon and Cornwall victim Care unit via the website victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk or calling 01392 475900.


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