Devon & Cornwall Police

Police 'had to react quickly' to large gatherings

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Police had to react quickly to recent large gatherings of people around Devon, the police commissioner has said.

Officers had to deal with incidents involving hundreds of people on Exmouth's beaches, plus gatherings on waterfronts in Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay over the past week which saw some antisocial behaviour flare up.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernanadez said officers were geared up for some public disorder but "what we weren't expecting was for it to happen before 4 July - the Super Saturday [when lockdown begins easing in England]".

Alison Hernanadez

We had to react very quickly, and I think the police have done a really good job of having high visibility and reassuring ordinary, law-abiding members of the public who want to enjoy our spaces to do so safely."

Alison HernanadezDevon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner

She added that she was setting up a fund to help local authorities try to stop mass gatherings or partying on beaches.

Policing cannot enforce social distancing - commissioner

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Alison Hernandez

With just five days to go before large numbers of holidaymakers could arrive in Cornwall and Devon, the counties' police commissioner is urging people to behave responsibly.

Alison Hernandez said she was concerned people would begin to relax their lockdown well before the official date of 4 July.

But she added that officers would not be enforcing social distancing - people must do that themselves and officers had to get back to dealing with everyday crime.

Policing cannot enforce social distancing. The reality is now, especially as we move into everything unlocking next weekend, we're back into normal policing. Officers are out and about dealing with ordinary crimes that are happening every day in our patch. We may be the second lowest crime area in the country, but we still have those crimes to deal with."

Alison HernandezDevon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner

Warehouse to be temporary £1.7m Barnstaple police station

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Barum Auto Parts building

A disused warehouse in Barnstaple will become a £1.7m temporary police station.

Barnstaple’s existing police station on North Walk has had to be vacated because its roof is faulty and repairing it is not "economically viable".

On Wednesday morning North Devon Council’s planning committee unanimously backed the plans by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to use the former Barum Auto Parts building on Seven Brethren as a temporary base.

It would house officers, staff, volunteers, a public front office and a custody centre, and planning permission was granted for five years to allow Devon and Cornwall Police to find a more suitable and permanent police station site.

Custody facilities are to be provided as a self-contained unit within the site, with a secure perimeter fencing, and bespoke holding facility provided.

Plans to develop a new and permanent operating base to serve North Devon are still under way.

Windows smashed on police vehicles with lifesaving equipment

Two police vehicles containing vital lifesaving equipment have had their windows smashed.

This means two vehicles used by the Newquay police team are out of action and unable to respond to emergencies.

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Police 'committed to thorough custody death investigation'

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Simeon Francis

Devon and Cornwall Police are "committed to a wholly appropriate, independent and thorough investigation" into the death of a man in custody, an assistant chief constable has said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the death of Simeon Francis, 35, in a cell in Torquay police station on 20 May after he was arrested in Exeter about 17 hours earlier.

A preliminary post-mortem examination did not find a cause of death, the IOPC said.

Police said they had been been co-operating fully with an independent inquiry throughout the last three weeks, following an immediate mandatory referral by the force.

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Colwell said: "The force made this referral immediately and has co-operated fully with the IOPC ever since, this will continue in the coming weeks and months."

"Our thoughts and condolences remain with the family and friends of Mr Francis and we remain committed to a wholly appropriate, independent and thorough investigation into the events surrounding Mr Francis’ death."

He added that communities could be "rest assured that Devon & Cornwall Police will always operate with integrity, honesty and transparency".

No officers or staff had been suspended or had duties restricted, the force said.