LAST week I visited the new police front desk in Okehampton, writes MP Mel Stride.

I am thrilled to see it up and running and providing help and support to people in the town and surrounding areas. The community here is growing, and it is crucial that our local services keep up with the demand.

I know just how much people wanted to see a visible police presence from the police in the town. Along with local councillors, pressed hard for a police front desk in Okehampton and it is great to see it come to fruition.

The opening of 18 new police front desks in Devon and Cornwall is part of the biggest investment in over a decade to improve access to local policing.

Devon and Cornwall, Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez originally reviewed 58 sites across Devon and Cornwall as potential locations for new police front desks.

Whilst these locations were under consideration, I knew it was important for Okehampton to have this resource and supported the case for the town to have its own police front desk.

 I am pleased we were able to make it happen.

For many people it is reassuring to speak face-to-face with a police officer to address their concerns. 

The opening of a new police front desk in Okehampton will make it easier to contact the police to seek help, crime prevention advice or report a crime. It is also much more accessible for people both in the town and communities outside Okehampton.

Visiting the new police front desk was also an opportunity to catch up with Chris Conway, Inspector for West Devon for Devon and Cornwall Police, and discuss the force’s ongoing recruitment programme.

In 2019, the government promised to recruit 20,000 extra police. We kept that promise and we delivered, with 600 new officers right here in Devon and Cornwall, helping to keep us safer.

As well as recruiting new police officers we are making sure they have the backing they need to protect us. 

This includes extending stop and search, where we have given more powers to 8,000 police officers as part of our efforts to crack down on violent crime. And tougher new sentencing means if someone is sentenced to life in prison, it actually means life in prison.

We are also serious about tackling knife crime and clear that those who use a knife as a weapon should go to prison. 

Anyone charged with knife possession will now be in front of a magistrate within days not weeks. Alongside this we have empowered the police with a new court order to target known knife carriers, making it easier for officers to stop and search those convicted of knife crime.

I want to make sure our towns feel safe and that crimes are dealt with swiftly and effectively, so will continue to support local policing in Central Devon at every opportunity.