Devon Strategic Assessment 2014-15 – Introduction

To print this module a PDF can be downloaded here

Section 1: Core messages


The Safer Devon Partnership is the county committee that provides the strategic direction for community safety in the county. The members of the Safer Devon Partnership are:

Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

Devon County Council

Devon Reform

East and Mid Devon Community Safety Partnership

Exeter Community Safety Partnership

North, East and West (NEW) Devon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group

South Devon and Torbay NHS Clinical Commissioning Group

Police and Crime Commissioner

Safer North Devon

South Devon and Dartmoor Community Safety Partnership

One of its guiding principles is to work effectively in partnership to reduce crime and create safer communities in Devon and it uses the Strategic Assessment to guide its work and set its priorities.

A Strategic Assessment is a ‘snapshot’ of crime and community safety produced using factual data. It aids understanding about crime and disorder issues, explores future threats and opportunities, and considers where resources can be focussed to make the most difference.

This document describes crime and community safety issues for Devon. The four Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) in Devon, as well as the Safer Devon Partnership, will use the Devon Strategic Assessment to target resources and identify if, where and how approaches and resources can be coordinated to deliver more efficient and effective community safety outcomes to benefit residents and visitors to Devon.

This document contributes to the production of the Peninsula Strategic Assessment (PSA) which is used to inform a coordinated approach across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

An evidence base for prioritisation

To prepare the strategic assessment over 40 crime and disorder issues were assessed using a Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment tool (STRA). The STRA considers each issue in terms of the scale and frequency of impact on communities, whether it is a priority for the public, the cost to agencies and the wider community, and how well the Peninsula performs compared with the rest of the UK. This process highlighted domestic, family and sexual abuse, and alcohol-related harm, as the main threats. These two areas have been identified in the Peninsula Strategic Assessment (PSA) and are reflected in this document as they are now key threats across the Peninsula.

In addition the PSA highlighted that a greater understanding is needed of ‘hidden crime’. This type of crime is illustrated by two distinct additional priorities – understanding of hate crime and hidden harm, and preventing violent extremism. Both of these are reflected in these documents. Other topics such as Anti-social behaviour, reoffending, arson and rape are being monitored as well.

Relevant to everyone

The data contained within the strategic assessment is intended to be useful to a wide range of agencies and individuals beyond the community safety partnerships. It is clearly sectioned to enable readers to find the most relevant material for their needs. One section highlights some emerging trends including child sexual exploitation and modern slavery that are likely to have a future impact in Devon and provides a benchmark for future assessment. The Devon Strategic Assessment can also be read with the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment of Health and Well-being (JSNA).

 Devon context

Devon is large and diverse, and is a largely rural area.  From Dartmouth in the South to Ilfracombe in the North is 130km/80 miles, and from Tavistock in the West to Axminster in the East 110km/70 miles.  The size of the area and its low population density – the county is the seventh least densely populated in England – means that whilst broad patterns are identifiable, true understanding of the state of crime and disorder, and provision of services, requires local knowledge.  The area’s population is growing and had reached 765,300 by mid-2014.  Major settlements across the county include the university city of Exeter and 28 market towns, which act as service centres for much of the population. Devon is famous as a holiday destination, and the impact of tourism can be seen in a number of factors that affect the character of different towns.

Differences in life expectancy are striking.  Central estimates suggest life expectancy ranges from 88.4 in Chagford to 74.7 in Central Ilfracombe, a difference of 13.7 years.  These figures clearly illustrate the disparities in social and economic conditions that exist in Devon.

The population has an age structure that is considerably older than the English average, with over 39% of the population of Sidmouth being 65 and over  However, there are major differences between towns – the equivalent figure for Exeter is less than 16%.

The county of Devon is generally well off but there are several areas of deprivation on a national scale.  Ilfracombe is the most deprived town in Devon for its size, as measured by the overall Index of Multiple Deprivation, but the larger settlements, notably Exeter and Barnstaple, have areas of ‘urban’ deprivation, and much of the sparse interior of the county have moderate levels of deprivation, especially evident in the ‘access to services’ domain of the index.

Overall Devon experiences less crime than other areas in the country but some places in Devon are hot-spots and these will highlighted.

Overarching theme

Early intervention and prevention has guided much of Safer Devon Partnership’s work and the support that it has provided has been intended to work ‘up stream’ of a crime. The objectives focus on identifying, risk assessing and safeguarding those who are most vulnerable in our communities and improving our understanding of their specific service needs. There is no such thing as a victimless crime and it is our role to do all we can to prevent crimes from happening.

Section 2: Setting the scene

An overview of community safety

The delivery landscape

The Peninsula Strategic Assessment has identified two priorities which most affect communities in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly:

  • Domestic, family and sexual abuse
  • Alcohol-related harm

Elsewhere in the assessment reoffending and anti-social behaviour will be monitored.  In addition a greater understanding of more hidden issues that affect the most vulnerable in our communities is needed in order to safeguard against, and respond to them effectively, increasing people’s confidence in services and encouraging more reporting.  Two distinct additional risks – understanding of hate crime and hidden harm and preventing violent extremism will be examined in light of this.

The Peninsula Strategic Assessment will be produced to show what has changed during the last 12 months and the Devon Strategic Assessment will support this.

Much of the data in this document is produced at Community Safety Partnership area level – (4 in Devon), district level (8 in Devon) and, where possible, by rural/urban split.

Community Safety Partnerships in Devon



Contains Ordnance Survey data.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2015. 100019783.



District Councils in Devon


Contains Ordnance Survey data.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2015. 100019783.

Section 3: Format of the documents

The assessment is divided into 7 modules:

  1. Introduction and Setting the Scene (this module).
  2. Executive Summary.
  3. Overall Crimes and Main Threats (Domestic Abuse and Alcohol-related Harm).
  4. Emerging Themes (Child Sex Exploitation, Modern Slavery, Cyber Crime, Fraud and Mental Health).
  5. Monitored Updates (Anti -Social Behaviour, Reoffending, Drugs and NPS, Hate Crime and Preventing Violent Extremism).
  6. Monitored Themes (Road Traffic Casualties, Arson, Rape, Rural Crime, Welfare Reform, Restorative Justice & Have Your Say).
  7. Glossary and Appendices.