Tavistock Police have begun a process of working more closely with Tavistock Business Improvement District (BID) directors in order to reduce crime in a preventative fashion throughout the town.

In a meeting between West Devon police sergeant Tom Ottley and BID directors at the Bedford Hotel last Tuesday evening (August 15), Sgt Ottley outlined a desire to improve town safety by creating a long term solution to ongoing issues, primarily through the implementation of a CCTV network and a Public Spaces Protection Order.

Regarding CCTV, Sgt Ottley said: “CCTV offers a 16% reduction in crime alone in just being there — that being crime which has not happened prior to implementation of a system. It then jumps to a 34-36% decrease in crime when actively monitored with resultant communication. I’m astounded that Tavistock has no CCTV coverage in the main whatsoever. I’m pushing for this, passionately.”

He then made reference to Okehampton’s CCTV network, which is significantly more built up after the town received funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in recent years, saying: “I’d say it’s at about 80% effectivity in Okehampton, however it is not actively monitored nor a reactive system, it is recorded onto a police database in Torbay. Despite this, town CCTV helped capture the lead up to a serious sexual assault we are certain will result in a conviction. This is in contrast to a nasty, recent incident of GBH on West Street in Tavistock which there is currently insufficient evidence to secure a conviction as CCTV only extends as far as shop doorways.”

Police in Tavistock have begun speaking with their partners and other sources of funding, including all levels of local government, to begin the process of securing this, despite having previously faced minor resistance from some town, borough and county councillors on funding grounds.

Tavistock town councillor Wayne Southall, who was present at the meeting, said: “Whilst I cannot speak for the town council, I’m sure we would support this.”

Concerning a Public Spaces Protection Order, Sgt Ottley stated a desire to have an order covering the entirety of the town, identical to one currently in place in Plymouth — his former policing area — which has a condition regarding alcohol in which a person in possession of alcohol that police suspect will contribute to (the likelihood of) anti-social behaviour can be arrested if they refuse to surrender it to an officer.

Next month, Sgt Ottley has arranged a large meeting of key stakeholders in Tavistock to advance ideas discussed in last Tuesday’s meeting further and advance the plan to enact these preventative measures in combatting crime. A date is yet to be announced. In the meantime, he urged everyone in West Devon to continue reporting incidents, by dialling 999 if a crime is in place or for non-emergencies online (instead of dialling 101).

Sgt Ottley said: “I’m worried crime is not being reported to us via correct channels. If it is not, it will not contribute to statistics, which in turn affects future funding.”