Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 21 February 2013


Spare a thought for the great British bobby. It must be one of the trickiest jobs in the world, sometimes downright dangerous. After three years of great turbulence, our police force locally is delivering a first class service.

There has been a spate of issues surrounding the police, especially at national level. The Metropolitan Police force has been embroiled in various scandals over recent years from institutionalised racism to phone hacking, to selling stories to the press. There has been more than a whiff of corruption in the air. Although this almost never impacted far-flung police forces like our own, nonetheless public confidence has suffered.

On top of negative publicity, there have been budgetary pressure since the coalition government decided to try to get public finances back on track and the police force have had to take their fair share of the pain, like any other government agency. In common with all other public sector workers, police officers have suffered substantial changes to their pension schemes as well as frozen pay for three years on the trot. Devon and Cornwall Police decided to push for a more radical re-organisation than many other forces and the uncertainty and pace of change was therefore greater down here than elsewhere. This plan was known as Blueprint and already parts of it are being unstitched.  Hmmm.

The independent Tomlinson report commissioned by the incoming Home Secretary in 2010 set out a whole series of changes that impact the way that police forces operate. Although many of us recognised the need to modernise working practices of the police, not least in rostering arrangements and the use of technology, it has been a difficult time to accommodate so much change at once.

The election of police and crime commissioners to provide greater accountability was perhaps the icing on the cake of uncertainty.

So it is a massive tribute to our hard working police officers that crime has been steadily falling in the past two years, while all this change has been thundering around them. In Devon and Cornwall crime has fallen overall by 5.5%in the past year.

At a meeting with the chief of police in the South Hams on Friday it was not hard to see why: a straight talking, no nonsense, practical police officer of the kind the public like to see.

There might be many reasons why crime is falling, but I am happy to give the credit to the police.

posted by Gary @ 09:38