INVOLVEMENT with the community is one of the most important parts of policing, according to West Devon Inspector Mark Sloman.
Insp Sloman became inspector for the West Devon area two years ago, but knows the area extremely well having grown up in the borough and brought up his own family here. He said he was passionate about the area and living in the place in which he worked meant he had a better understanding of the issues affecting West Devon.
Starting with the police force almost 26 years ago, Insp Sloman has spent most of his working life in Plymouth as a uniformed officer, detective constable and a detective sergeant. He has a lot of background in serious crime and he transferred to West Devon three years ago as a detective sergeant and took on the role as inspector two years ago.
‘We see ourselves as part of the community,’ he said. ‘Community involvement and interaction with the public is really important — we can’t do our job without information from the public.
‘We don’t want people to be scared of us, we want to work with people to make them feel safe. We’re not just here to deal with emergencies. If people aren’t happy and feel the police can help, get in touch with us. We’re here to help protect the most vulnerable in the community.’
Insp Sloman said that 20% of their job was dealing with crimes but the other 80% was dealing with other issues, including mental health problems, missing people, suicides, bereaved families, partnership working with other agencies, delivering support to elderly people, youth groups and licensed premises, working with the street pastors and businesses as well as many other aspects.
He highlighted that there was also a CID department in West Devon which dealt with everything from murder to domestic abuse. The West Devon police teams also spend a great deal of time dealing with issues and crimes at HMP Dartmoor.
He added: ‘We try to keep people safe and get drug addicts, paedophiles and burglars off the streets and our officers in West Devon work tirelessly to do this. It is frustrating, however, when obstacles get in our way and we don’t always get the results we are looking for.
‘In both Tavistock and Okehampton we have 24-hour cover and I am really proud of our officers and PCSOs and what they do here. A lot of what we do goes under the radar but we cannot take criminals off the streets unless we get help from members of the public.’