Project Servator expands into Plymouth

Devon & Cornwall Police are expanding Project Servator into Plymouth today, Monday 7 December after a successful trial in Exeter.

Specifically designed to disrupt a range of criminal activity, from theft to terrorism, Project Servator involves highly visible and unpredictable police deployments.

Each deployment is made up of officers specially trained to identify criminal intent. They can include a range of other police resources, including police dogs, armed police officers, live monitored CCTV, drones and ANPR.

Officers on Project Servator deployments work closely with partners, businesses and the general public to encourage the reporting of any suspicious or unusual activity, creating a network of vigilance which makes it difficult for potential terrorists who may be considering their targets or for individuals looking to commit crime.

Devon & Cornwall Police have been trialling the initiative in Exeter since October 2019 and were due to officially expand into Plymouth earlier this year, however due to COVID-19 the official expansion was delayed.

Since October 2019, 26 arrests have been made and 86 stop and searches have been conducted. Of those 86, 38 (44.2%) had a positive outcome such as an arrest or seizure of prohibited items, which is above the overall national positive outcome rate for stop and search.

Following the success in Exeter, Devon & Cornwall Police are now expanding Project Servator into Plymouth including areas such as Drake Circus.

Each deployment is intelligence led and specially trained officers can turn up anywhere at any time. Highly visible uniformed officers engage with the public, encouraging them to be the police’s extra eyes and ears and report anything that doesn’t feel right, while plain clothed officers can blend into the crowd and watch for suspicious activity.

Partners, businesses and security staff are provided with information and training around Project Servator to help raise awareness among the general public about the importance of reporting suspicious activity. Businesses receive SCAN training where staff are also training to look out for suspicious activity and what to do if they see it.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew, said: “Project Servator deployments may look slightly different, but they are nothing to worry about. These are normal police operations engaging with and reassuring the public, but with enhanced training we can disrupt hostile reconnaissance – the information gathering criminals do to help them plan their activity.

“Project Servator has been developed by experts in the field of a behaviour, so we understand how individuals behave when planning a crime: ranging from shop lifting to terrorism. Following this extensive research we have trained officers to be able to identify very subtle behaviour of a person undertaking this level of planning and reconnaissance.

“Across the UK, Project Servator has also been successful in gathering intelligence that has assisted police in investigating and preventing acts of terror and has resulted in arrests for a multitude of offences as well as firearms, knives and drugs being removed from our streets.

“This is an approach to policing which has been proven to disrupt a wide range of criminal activity.”

Exeter’s Project Servator Sergeant, Chris Pusey, said: “Project Servator brings together the police, security services, the community and businesses to help make where we live, work and relax a safer place.

“Working with the community is a vital part of making it difficult for criminals to operate successfully, and record numbers of people have been contacting the police nationally to report suspicious activity.

“You shouldn’t be worried if a deployment happens in your area. I encourage anyone to talk to officers to find out more. You can help keep everyone safe by reporting anything that doesn’t feel right.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: “Traditional policing will always be needed to tackle serious crime but as criminals become more sophisticated it is important that the police come up with new ways of stopping them in their tracks. Prevention is key.

“Serious and violent crime blights all levels of society, and while most of us will never be directly affected by terrorism there are many other crimes, such as those associated to the drugs trade, which touch many lives.

“Our area has one of the lowest recorded crime rates in the country, but we must understand how criminals are operating and work robustly and swiftly to prevent them from doing so.”

Report anything that doesn’t feel right, tell a police officer or a member of staff.

Contact us by calling 101, text 67101 or email 101@dc.police.uk

In an emergency always call 999