THE region’s new police chief has set out his priorities for the force as he gets his feet under the desk in his first month in the role.
These include investing in ‘bobbies on the beat’ and making it easier for the police to meet the public.
He also pledged to root out institutional bullying within Devon and Cornwall Police itself.
Chief Constable Will Kerr’s 30 years’ experience in policing includes a spell working for the police force in Northern Ireland. He was appointed by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, following by what her office described as a rigorous selection process, and started in the role on Thursday, December 29.
Chief Constable Kerr said: ‘I am deeply proud to be the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police. I have dedicated my career to serving the public and I look forward to continuing this work at the head of this organisation.
‘I have purposefully spent my first few weeks meeting officers, staff, and members of the public who make up the fantastic communities of Devon, Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly. I have listened to, and taken onboard, their concerns and views on how they feel about their police force. A fundamental process – one of listening – which has and will continue to shape my priorities for the force.
‘We’re very fortunate that Devon & Cornwall Police has a number of core strengths to build on, including very strong community connections, and active community support. Having worked in policing in other parts of the UK, I know how important these critical components for good policing are.
‘It is no accident that Devon and Cornwall Police has one of the lowest crime rates in the country and remains one of the safest places to live in the UK. This is down to the hard work of officers and staff, but we haven’t done this alone; our communities and partners have helped us achieve this. Thank you for that support which we do not take for granted.’
He went on to say that he was ‘under no illusion of the scale of some of the challenges ahead’ including a recent critical report over the time taken to answer both 999 and 101 calls.
He said: ‘I am confident that we can address these positively and relatively quickly, and continue to deliver the service that our communities expect and deserve.’
He said the priorities included in investing in neighbourhood teams – bobbies on the beat – and ‘continue to make significant improvements in how the public can contact us and access our services’.
He said he would look after his workforce ‘to invest in officer and staff well-being and creating a supportive environment which encourages delegation and innovation’. He also pledged to tackle workplace bullying within the force itself, saying he aimed to root out ‘unacceptable behaviour internally’.
‘These aren’t the only three priorities for the force, of course. They are, however, areas which set the tone and standards for everything else,’ he said.
‘I am looking forward to getting out and about over the next few months and continue to get to know the communities that make up Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.’
Most recently Deputy Chief Constable for Police Scotland, Will spent over 27 years in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) where he rose to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC).
Will was awarded the OBE in 2015 whilst ACC with PSNI and received the KPM (Kings Policing Medal) in the New Year Honours 2023.