New police commissioner Tony Hogg visits Plymouth's Union Street
DEVON and Cornwall’s first Police and Crime Commissioner got a taste of what officers encounter on a Friday night in Plymouth.
Tony Hogg, a former naval commander who was voted in as the Conservative candidate for the role of PCC last month, joined officers on the ground last night as they took part in Operation Expound, which deals with the evening and night time economy areas of the city on Fridays and Saturdays.
He had already spent much of the day in North Devon, visiting officers and the custody suite at Barnstaple police station.
The 63-year-old former commander of RNAS Culdrose, in West Cornwall, then traveled to Plymouth to see how officers tackled a typical Friday night in the heart of the city.
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In his manifesto, Tony Hogg said he had served 33 years as a Royal Naval officer, during which time he acquired “extensive command experience in peace and war” – attributes some would suggest ideally suited him for a night with police on patrol in Union Street.
Acting Supt Brendan Brookshaw said Mr Hogg took part in the “insight patrol” which has also been experienced by local councillors, partner agency representatives and even members of the public.
He said: “Mr Hogg wanted to get out and walk the ground and see what’s happening on the evening and night time economy.
“We try to get them around to see as much as possible. It includes taking part in the briefing of the Operation Expound officers before being given a tour of the custody suite.
“The tour then sees us going to the control room at Crownhill police station where he is able to sit in with operators and listen to the 999 calls as they come in and see how they’re tasked out and reviewed.”
During the evening Mr Hogg also visited the CCTV control room in the city centre, which houses screens covering a large part of the evening and night time economy areas of Plymouth.
Part of the ‘insight patrol’ also includes a visit to Operation Vivaldi, set up at the Shekinah Mission in Bath Street.
Acting Supt Brookshaw said: “If we have victims of assault we are able to use the facilities alongside the ambulance service to assist them. In addition, it gives officers the opportunity to take any early statements.”
He said the insight patrols were a very useful way of showing other partner agencies the work done to tackle problems in the night time economy areas of Plymouth.
He said: “We will have two councillors from Plymouth City Council’s scrutiny committee accompanying us on an insight patrol tonight which will include a visit to the StreetSafe scheme in North Hill which is working very well.”
The scheme sees police work with St John Ambulance, the Street Pastors and South Western Ambulance Service in an effort to prevent admissions swamping the accident and emergency department of Derriford Hospital.
Mr Hogg also spent time alongside officers as they monitored the pubs and clubs of Union Street, North Hill, Barbican and Mutley. He also spoke to the city’s much praised Street Pastors.
Acting Supt Brookshaw said: “What we try to do in these insight patrols is give the person an appreciation of what it is to be a constable on the beat in the evening and night time economy areas. It’s sometimes quite a revelation for those who go on it. We had one gentleman a week ago who remarked ‘I never realised it’s so cold’. The aim is to show what goes on and what it looks like from the street level.”
Mr Hogg said he wanted to understand what the night time economy was like.
He said: “I saw examples of antisocial behaviour and how the police dealt with it. Alcohol misuse, for me, is way up at the top of the list of issues because of the damage it can do in terms of wider violence, the effect on children and in terms of the load it puts on the police service.”