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G7 mutual aid officers urged to adopt Cornwall approach

Officer drafted for the G7 summit will be briefed to adjust how they work with the public to avoid poor contacts.

Ahead of the summit of world leaders, Devon and Cornwall revealed it will be briefing the 6,500 officers being brought in under mutual aid to deliver policing with a focus on the local community.

Officers are being brought in from London and other parts of the country but operational leads want the experience of residents and visitors to be as close to normal as possible despite the high security. 

Superintendent Jo Hall of Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We’re being really clear in briefings that we’re policing to our own culture and we want them engaging with the wider communities. We want them to work with local people as we would.”

It’s part of a sophisticated operation that is being built on communication with people living and working in the areas affected by the summit – which has an perimeter that effectively cuts through the middle of the county.

Officers who are part of the Project Servator initiative have already begun engagement work to encourage people to report suspicious activity and identify people planning to commit offences.

Supt Hall told Police Oracle: “We’re really encouraging people, when they see an officer, to say hello and have a chat.”

She added: “What we’ve been doing from the outset is being really transparent with the local community.”

With a significant number of demonstrators expected, good policing contacts with the local community are critical to avoid adding to issues.

The summit is being held at the start of the tourist season and chiefs also want to avoid generating reputational damage at a time when businesses depending on visitors are trying to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Supt Hall said: “Our local policing teams and Council community link officers have been working together to engage with communities in St Ives, Falmouth and Newquay since the announcement of the event.

“We are working hard to minimise the impact of the Summit on local communities and we are engaging regularly with residents and other partners in the affected areas.”

The latest stage of the operation has been explaining how road closures and diversions will impact.

Residents close to summit venues will need to carry two forms of ID with them – and increase their journey times.

It’s a crunch issue as cars are the main source of travel in the mainly rural areas; the main artery road affected by the summit carries around 12,000 vehicles a day. And tourists will be arriving.

Chief Inspector Dean O’Connor, who is leading on roads management, told Police Oracle: “Cornwall is always busy around this time of year. We will respond effectively; there’s a tried and tested diversion.”

A key piece of work has been working to ensure mutual aid officers unfamiliar with the areas they will be working in know the limitations.

An image has already been shared on social media of a patrol bus wedged into a narrow village street allegedly driven by an officer from a mutual aid force.

Chief Insp O’Connor said: “The majority of officers will be on foot. There will be mutual aid drivers on roads that will be challenging. I’m not saying nobody will get stuck, but we’ve done our utmost to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Creating and enforcing the traffic plans has meant heightened work with the council’s highways team.

The update on the G7 operation came on the same day as the Home Office announced it is pressing ahead to introduce a new legal duty for forces to co-operate with councils.

The force says the co-operation is already there.

Ch Insp O’Connor said: “We’ve always got these relationships but personally it’s been like being part of one team. It feels like a joint collaboration to deliver this operation.”

One of the goals is for initiatives run during the event that benefit residents, such as online crime reporting, to continue after the event and the council says the partnership working will deliver long-term benefits.

Kate Kennally, Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, said: “We are working hard to ensure that hosting the G7 in Cornwall will bring long-term economic benefits for all residents of Cornwall, but it will mean some short-term impact on those living nearest to the venues which are hosting the event.” 

She added: “We will work with the Devon and Cornwall Police do all we can to minimise the effect it has, and our priority will remain, as ever, looking after our residents.”

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