Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Police
Devon and Cornwall Police
Devon Cornwall Police logo.jpg
Badge of the Devon and Cornwall Police.
Motto In Auxilium Omnium
To the assistance of everybody
Agency overview
Formed April 1st, 1967
Preceding agencies
Employees 6,067[1]
Volunteers 505[1]
Annual budget £256.8 million[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* Police area of Devon and Cornwall in the country of England, UK
England Police Forces (Devon and Cornwall).svg
Map of police area
Size 3,961 square miles
Population 1.65 million
Legal jurisdiction England & Wales
Governing body Devon and Cornwall Police Authority
Constituting instrument Police Act 1996
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary/Independent Police Complaints Commission
Headquarters Middlemoor, Exeter
Constables 4034 (of which 505 are special constables)[1]
PCSOs 354[1]
Agency executive Stephen Otter, Chief Constable
Basic Command Units 3
Stations 49
Helicopters 1 Eurocopter EC145
* Police area agency: Prescribed geographic area in the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

Devon and Cornwall Police, formerly Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, is the territorial police force responsible for policing the counties of Devon and Cornwall in England and the unitary authorities of Plymouth, Torbay and the Isles of Scilly.



This is the largest police force area in England by geographical area covered, and the fifth largest in the United Kingdom. The total population of the force area is approximately 1.5 million. The force also has to cope with an influx of around 11 million visitors to its area during the average year.

The force was formed on 1 April 1967 by the amalgamation of the Devon and Exeter Police, Cornwall County Constabulary and Plymouth City Police, these three constabularies were an amalgamation of 23 city and borough police forces that were absorbed between 1856 and 1947.


The force is divided into three BCUs (Basic Command Units), each commanded by a Chief Superintendent. Each BCU is divided into large Geographic Areas, which are further sub-divided into Sectors, each with one or more police stations. This organisation is slightly different in Plymouth, which is divided directly into Sectors operating out of Plymouth's four police stations, and North and East Devon's Exeter Geographic Area, both of whose Sectors operate out of a single police station. Each Geographic Area is headed by a Superintendent and each Sector by an Inspector.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Division

Commander: C/Supt. Chris Boarland

East Cornwall Geographic Area

Mid-Cornwall Geographic Area

West Cornwall Geographic Area

Devon Division

Commander: C/Supt. Steve Swani

South Hams and West Devon Geographic Area

Teignbridge Geographic Area

Torbay Geographic Area

Exeter Geographic Area

  • (Exeter "Heavitree Road" Police Station)

Mid and East Devon Geographic Area

Northern Devon Geographic Area

Plymouth Division

Commander: C/Supt. Andrew Bickley

Plymouth Geographic Area

  • Plymouth Central Sector (Charles Cross Police Station)
  • Plymouth Devonport Sector (Marlborough Street Police Office)
  • Plymouth East Sector (Plympton and Plymstock)
  • Plymouth North Sector (Crownhill Police Station)
  • Plymouth South Sector (Charles Cross Police Station)
  • Plymouth West Sector (Beacon Park Police Office)

Basic Command Unit structure

Each BCU has several specialist teams, namely:

  • Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPTs), each with local Beat Managers and PCSOs. The NPTs concentrate on preventing and detecting local crime and targeting offenders, building contacts in the local community, resolving problems by working with local organisations and individuals, and being visible and accessible. Devon and Cornwall has 193 NPTs
  • Targeted Patrol Teams responding to emergency calls.
  • Traffic Units patrol the roads and target and pursue people committing traffic offences, this includes Traffic PCSO's.
  • Criminal Investigation Departments (CID) detect serious crime
    • Forensic Services investigate crime scenes for forensic evidence that may correspond with many of the Home Office databases.
  • Pro-active Policing Units target persistent criminals and focus on specific operations.
  • Dog Units are officers who patrol with dogs and respond to incidents where a police dog is required.

Headquarters-based teams

To support the BCUs, several centralised teams operate from the headquarters:


The Operations Department provides uniformed operational support to the force, and is responsible for traffic policing and tactical support.

Roads Policing Unit

Devon and Cornwall Police vehicle

Devon and Cornwall Police patrol 20 miles of the M5 which has 6 junctions, as well as many other 'A' roads including the A30, A377, A38, A303, A386, A388, A39, A395, A394 and A376. The unit is split up into seven road policing sectors.

Motorcycle Policing Unit

Devon and Cornwall Police has officers that patrol on police motorcycles. Motorcycle officers are exempt from wearing body armour as they have to wear motorcycle leathers.

Tactical Aid Unit

The Tactical Aid Group (TAG) is predominantly responsible for public order, marine operations, searches and dealing with potentially violent offenders. It is divided into five sections, including two trained in firearms and one in marine operations.

Marine Support Unit

The Marine Support Unit, known as D Section and based in Plymouth, is responsible for underwater search and marine operations. It consists of one inspector, one sergeant and seven constables, all trained divers, and operates a rigid-hulled inflatable boat capable of 45 knots.

Dog Section

Devon and Cornwall Police have officers that patrol the streets and attend incidents with police dogs. The force mainly use German Shepherds, but also have other types of dogs. The dogs are trained in a variety of roles including drugs dogs, explosives dogs and firearms support dogs. Devon and Cornwall Police are the first police force to train dogs to search for missing persons.

The unit, which is headed up by an Inspector, is based at headquarters in Middlemoor, in Exeter.

Armed Response Unit

Devon and Conrwall Police's Armed Response Unit is a 24/7 sub-department of the Operations department that responds to major and serious crimes were firearms are involved. The unit responds to incidents with firearms and taser guns, and are the only officers in the force that are routinely armed.

Air Operations Unit

The Air Operations Unit is based at force headquarters and operates a helicopter that provides support quickly and in remote and dangerous places. Devon and Cornwall Police were the first police force in the country to employ the use of a helicopter full time when the unit was founded in 1979.

The unit used to use a single MBB/Kawasaki BK 117. They now operate a Eurocopter EC145, a popular brand for UK police forces, which came into service in April 2010. The unit can scramble in two minutes and can reach most areas of the force within 15 minutes.[2]

Force Crime Department

The Force Crime Department contains the central units of the force's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which also has detectives attached to the larger police stations. It is headed by the Force Crime Manager, a Detective Chief Superintendent.

Major Crime Branch

The Major Crime Branch deals with serious crimes such as murder, kidnap, fraud and paedophilia and with crimes that cross boundaries between CID areas and require co-ordination. It contains three Detective Superintendents, all of whom are Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs).

  • The Major Incident Support Team (MIST) provides training and support for major incidents and operations both for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and the States of Jersey Police.
  • The four Major Crime Investigation Teams (MCITs) based at Newquay, Plymouth, South West Devon and Exeter investigate murders and other suspicious deaths and provide specialist investigative support to CID officers throughout the force.
  • The Economic Crime Section is divided into five separate units:
    • The Financial Investigation Unit mainly deals with the investigation of all confiscation cases under the Drug Trafficking Act 1994, Criminal Justice Act 2003 and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. They deal with seizures of over £10,000 and investigate drug trafficking and money laundering offences.
    • The Fraud Squad deals with major fraud cases and allegations of corruption by public officials and bodies.
    • The Hi-Tech Crime Unit is responsible for the forensic examination of computer equipment to gather evidence for prosecution in a variety of cases.
    • The Paedophile Unit investigates allegations of child sexual abuse.
    • The Cheque and Credit Card Fraud Squad investigates the theft and misuse of cheques, credit cards and debit cards.

Covert Operations Unit

The Covert Operations Unit handles surveillance and major undercover operations. It is headed by a Detective Superintendent assisted by two Detective Chief Inspectors.

  • The Technical Support Unit provides expertise on video, audio, alarms, tracking and positioning systems.
  • The Covert Operations Support Unit co-ordinates force-wide covert operations and training and also handles witness protection.
  • The Force Surveillance Unit (FSU) has sections based in Plymouth and Exeter and provides the force's main covert surveillance capability throughout its area.

Intelligence Unit

The Intelligence Unit collects, collates and distributes intelligence and information of use to the force.

  • The Force Intelligence Centre is the main intelligence organ and is staffed by specialists in a variety of criminal areas.
  • The Force National Computer Bureau (FNCB) runs the force's contribution and access to the British Police National Computer (PNC) system.
  • Special Branch is in charge of counterterrorism and other national security matters.
  • The Crime Standards Unit reviews crime reports to ensure that the fullest possible response has been made, analyses crime reports, and processes and researches intelligence.

Performance and Co-Ordination Unit

The Performance and Co-ordination Unit is responsible for maintaining investigative standards throughout the force.

  • The Dedicated Source Unit deals with information sources in line with national regulations and standards.
  • The Victim Centred Crime Unit formulates and ensures best practice with regard to issues such as child protection, domestic violence, harassment, missing persons, vice and victim support.
  • The Control Strategy Crime Reduction Unit formulates and ensures best practice with regard to crime control and reduction.
  • The Covert Standards and Authorities Unit ensures force compliance with legislation allowing police forces to contravene the Human Rights Act.
  • The Policy and Performance Unit formulates policy for the whole Force Crime Department.

Scientific and Technical Services Unit

The Scientific and Technical Services Unit analyses forensic evidence gathered by scenes of crime officers based at police stations and provides other technical services to the force. The unit has its own forensic pathologist, the only police-employed pathologist in Britain.

  • The Central Submissions Unit handles the reception and supervision of all DNA samples and enters the details on the UK National DNA Database.
  • The Chemical and Optical Unit enhances and records fingerprints and palmprints on items recovered from crime scenes.
  • The Fingerprint Bureau analyses fingerprints and palmprints, feeds them into national databases and collates the results.
  • The Photographic Unit provides all the force's photographic needs.

Other departments

  • The Firearms Unit is responsible for all firearms training, planning and licensing.
  • The Contingency Planning Unit formulates long-term plans to deal with major incidents, including security for VIP visits, counterterrorist operations and reaction to terrorist attacks.
  • The Force Planning and Consultation Unit formulates policy and plans and monitors public opinion on policing matters.
  • The Professional Standards Unit is the Internal affairs branch and deals with force discipline and complaints against officers.



Devon and Cornwall Police officers wear the traditional custodian helmet in the ball style with a Brunswick star that reads 'Devon and Cornwall Police' for foot patrol, a peaked cap for when on mobile patrol in vehicles, and a white peaked cap for traffic officers. Female officers wear a bowler hat, or a white bowler hat for traffic officers. Devon and Cornwall are only 1 in 4 forces to use the ball style for custodian helmets.[3]


When on duty officers wear traditional white shirt and clip-on black tie, with black uniform trousers. Devon and Cornwall Police no longer use the traditional police jumper, having favoured the black fleece with police written on the chest and back. Devon and Cornwall Police do not have Brunswick stars on their epaulettes, just the rank and collar number.[3] Formal dress comprises an open-necked tunic, with white shirt/blouse and tie/cravat. Constables and Sergeants wear custodian helmet's and collar numbers on their epaulettes, all higher ranked officers wear peaked caps, name badges and their rank on their epaulettes. The No.1 uniform is accompanied by black boots or shoes and occasionally black gloves, or brown gloves for the rank of Inspector and above.


Devon and Cornwall officers carry TETRA digital radios, PDAs, Hiatt rigid handcuffs, CS incapacitant gas, the ASP 21" collapsible baton, leg restraints, a resuscitation mask and a basic first aid kit. PCSO's do not carry ASPs, handcuffs, leg restraints or PAVA. Police vehicles contain a variety of equipment, which can include Arnold batons, traffic cones, road signs, breathalyzers, stingers, speed guns and more.


Devon and Cornwall Police use many different makes of vehicles from several different car manufacturers for the diverse categories of response vehicles required by the modern Police Officer. Devon and Cornwall mainly use the Ford Focus as a patrol car.[4]


Devon and Cornwall Police use the modern yellow and blue retro-reflective battenberg markings all over all operational vehicles, as well as the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary crest. Devon and Cornwall Police stopped using the 'jam sandwich' police car markings between 2000-2005 when battenburg markings were invented.[4]


Between 1856 and 1947 police in Devon and Cornwall came under 26 different forces, all using different names. They were gradually absorbed into two of the existing forces called Devon and Exeter Constabulary and Cornwall County Constabulary, except Plymouth City Police which remained separate. In 1967 the three remaining forces were amalgamated into one called Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. This force was later renamed to Devon and Cornwall Police to make it seem more accessible.[5][6]


British Crime Survey

Devon and Cornwall are amongst the safest counties in the UK, with the 4th lowest crime rate per 1000 people in England. Recorded crime dropped by 12%, between June 2009 and July 2010. This was compared to an 8% drop in crime across England and Wales. Public perceptions of crime and confidence in the police was also better than the national average.[7]

There were drops in the rates of criminal damage (-19%), theft (-12%), robbery (11%), burglary (-13%), vehicle crime (-19%) and violence (-5%), however the only crimes that rose were sexual offences (+15%) and drug crimes (+6%), this was accounted for by an increased awareness campaign and more victimes coming forward for sexual offences, and more effective targeting of drug offences.[8][9]

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary graded Devon and Cornwall Police as 'fair' for confidence and satisfaction, and 'good' on local crime and policing and protection from serious harm.[10]

In detail they were graded as 'excellent' for reducing crime, suppressing gun crime and suppressing knife crime. They were rated 'low/medium' for all sections of 'value for money' including cost of policing, cost per household, number of officers and PCSO's and proportion of policing cost met from council tax.[10]

Strength and recruitment

Devon and Cornwall Police employs 6,067 people and 505 volunteers. Of which 3,529 are Police Officers, 354 Police Community Support Officers, 505 Special Constables and 2184 are civilian staff.[1]

Devon and Cornwall Police currently is not recruiting Constables, PCSOs, Special Constables, transferred officers, civilian staff or control room operators due to budget cuts. They are only hiring for roles that need to be filled.

Devon and Cornwall Police do not have a Police Support Volunteer scheme.

Training for new recruits in Devon and Cornwall is held at the Headquarters in Middlemoor. For Constables it consists of eight months' training and a two-year probationary period. For PCSOs it consists of 18 weeks' training and a 15-weeks probationary period. For Special Constables it consists of 3 months of training during weeknights and weekends, and a two-year probationary period or less, dependent on the number of tours of duty.

Recruits receive their warrant card and uniform in the first two months of training. Once the training period is over, the new officers are posted in a local division.

Devon and Cornwall Police Authority

The Devon and Cornwall Police Authority is made up of nineteen members: 10 councillors, 3 justices of the peace, and 6 independent members. The councillors are nominated by a committee consisting of members from the Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and Isles of Scilly councils.[11]

If the Government is successful in introducing Police Commissioners to govern police forces, then the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority will be scrapped.[12]

Budget cuts

Proposed merger

In 2006 the Home Office announced plans to reduce the number of police forces in the UK from 42 to 24 in an attempt to save money. The plans were abandoned later that year due to lack of funding for the mergers, however the idea has resurfaced many times.

The proposed idea would see Wiltshire Police merge with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Dorset Police to form a 'super police force'.

The plans have been publicly criticised by all the involved forces, stating that it would lead to poor quality service and a reduction in local policing.[13]

Other Activities

Devon and Cornwall Police Pipes and Drum Band

The Devon and Cornwall Police Pipes and Drum band is a band made up of pipe and drums players who play on behalf of the police force in aid of charity. The band plays at fundraising events for Devon Air Ambulance, Help for Heroes and other events, as well at police occasions such as officer graduations.

The band is made up of officers and employees of Devon and Cornwall police, as well as some members who are not related to the police. The band is not funded or related to the police force but do have permission to use their name and uniform.[14]

Devon and Cornwall Police Rugby Football Club

The Devon and Cornwall RFC was formed in 1967 following the amalgamation of the Devon, Cornwall and Plymouth Constabularies clubs. A few midweek and Sunday games were played and players were encouraged to play for club sides on Saturdays. However the Saturday team was disbanded in May 1995 due to operational commitments. Today the force still manages to bring together a team when necessary, and play in the National Cup Competition every year.[15]

In popular culture

  • Two fictional Devon & Cornwall police officers are present in the TV show Doc Martin.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Night curfew on children brings anti-social behaviour down by 15 per cent". Daily Mail (London). 7 September 2008. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Devon and Cornwall Police recorded crime falls by 12%". BBC News. 21 October 2010. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Concerns over police merger plans (From Salisbury Journal)". 2010-02-19. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  14. ^
  15. ^

Further reading

  • Campion, Roger (1997) The Call of Duty; police gallantry in Devon & Cornwall: decorations, orders, medals and commendations for gallantry and devotion to duty awarded to officers who have served in the police forces of Devon and Cornwall. Tiverton: Halsgrove in association with the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary ISBN 1874448361

External links

Video clips

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