Leader of the West Devon Neighbourhood Policing Team Sergeant Tom Ottley is reflecting on his progress and outlining future plans as he approaches six months of being in post.

When Sgt Ottley took up the post earlier this year, he set out to improve access, engagement and visibility with the neighbourhood policing team and has already taken various, robust steps to boost each of these, in turn striving to continue building public confidence.

The team has been in attendance at various events throughout the summer months, including the recernt RAF Harrowbeer weekend, Okehampton Show, Tavistock Pride and events in celebration for King Charles III’s coronation — maximising opportunity to speak with local residents. Sgt Ottley reported receiving positive feedback from those he and other officers engaged with at the Okehampton Show.

Officers are also continuing to conduct patrols around the West Devon area, particularly at peak times and documenting their routes every week with seven pictures on West Devon Police’s social media pages, entitled ‘Seven in West Devon.’

Sgt Ottley said: “I review incidents that have occurred every two weeks, then tailor the next patrol routes accordingly to areas where incidents are ongoing and continue to be addressed. We are also building our community safety partnerships, working with intelligence officers. This involves improving links with Dartmoor Prison, so our routes and patrols can be focused around there too.”

In Okehampton, Sgt Ottley and other officers are awaiting an upcoming sentencing and Criminal Behaviour Order hearing for prolific shoplifter Hayden Wardman, who was initially handed a suspended sentence upon conviction for over 17 shoplifting offences in the late spring, but was since re-arrested late last month.

Sgt Ottley is also now chairing housing meetings in Okehampton and Tavistock, sitting down with social housing providers on a monthly basis, working together to take action to address crime, whether this be anti-social behaviour or a single individual involved in criminal activity on an estate. He is also piloting a project to work more closely with both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence in order to enhance safeguarding when incidents are reported and investigated, ensuring further staff training on matters such as rural crime and licencing activity, improving links with young people of both primary and secondary school age through junior life skills sessions and signing residents up to messaging system DC Alert, with a printed newsletter soon to be distributed at community centres and parish halls.

He is also arranging a meeting between key town stakeholders in Tavistock next month in his bid to prevent crime through installation of CCTV in the town centre and implication of a town-wide Public Spaces Protection Order in both Tavistock and Okehampton, which gives officers the power to confiscate alcohol if they believe it will contribute to (the occurrence of) anti-social behaviour.

Sgt Ottley said: “I definitely think such measures would make communities feel safer and help us tackle crime better. The PSPO currenty in place in Tavistock only covers the meadows, however I’d like it to cover the entirety of both towns.”