The Friends of The South West Police Heritage Trust

Some answers to commonly asked questions…

  • 1. Who is involved in looking after the Historic Collections of Devon & Cornwall Police?
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  • 2. What are the ‘Friends’ of the Collection and how can I get involved in supporting the Collection?

    The Friends group was formed in May 2011 in order to support the fine historic collections of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and the work of the Curator. Our small charity is a not for profit organisation recognised as charitable by HMRC for tax purposes. We are also members of the British Association of Friends of Museums.

    The aim of The Friends of The South West Police Heritage Trust is to fully support the Heritage and Learning Resource by undertaking the following:

    • Make known to the broader community the diversity and wealth of the collection by giving talks, attending community events and providing a web site.
    • To assist in the promotion of knowledge regarding history, community and policing to the communities of Devon and Cornwall for all ages.
    • To fundraise and assist in the ongoing care and conservation of the collection.

    You can get involved in supporting the Collection by joining the Friends for the small annual fee of £5, becoming a volunteer or donating to our work directly here.

  • 3. What is ‘Policing Past Community Present’ and what does it intend to do?

    In 2014, the Curator of the Historic Collections of Devon & Cornwall Police applied for, and won, Heritage Lottery Fund Start-Up Grant funding (£9,900) to open up the collection by creating a charity with the aims of protecting and developing it. The first phase of the project begun in mid-July 2014 and will culminate in March 2016 with the launch of the new charity. This will provide a springboard to put in place the first steps in creating a sustainable and living collection.

    The key aims of the project are detailed below:

    • Developing the ground work for transferring the Historic Collections into a charitable trust. This will then be the basis for fundraising activity, with an aim to becoming self-supporting.
    • Safeguard the policing heritage of Devon & Cornwall police for future generations and explore how the collections can support the work of the police via partnership working and community involvement.
    • Opening up the stored collections and providing them with a permanent home.

    The Heritage Lottery Fund money is being used to fund a Project Manager, as well as to cover the legal fees for the setting up of the charitable trust.

  • 4. Where is the Collection and why can’t it be visited?

    The Collection is currently based at Okehampton Police Station. Although the public-facing services of the station are now closed, it still remains a working police station and as such the public cannot currently view the collection. Additionally, the collection contains sensitive material subject to the Data Protection Act and the Management of Police Information act. There is an immense amount of objects in the Historic Collections; currently filling three store rooms, with no availability for display space. Volunteers are working on the lengthy task of cataloguing, but it is estimated that only one-fifth has been catalogued so far (approximately 11,200 objects, photographs and records). This however does mean that access to the collection must be limited until we are able to catalogue it fully.

  • 5. Why do we need to save the Collection?

    The Historic Collections of Devon & Cornwall Police represent the organisational memory of the police force; providing the basis for a future museum of the profession that will reflect on the evolution of the force. Police collections save the memories/stories/material history of police officers and act as an important repository for records for future generations, as well as celebrating the fantastic wealth of heritage of the police. However, policing museums are very vulnerable in the current climate, becoming increasingly rare.

    The Historic Collections of Devon & Cornwall Police represents a rare intact collection; archives, artefacts, memorabilia, equipment and uniforms, photographs, and a large reference library, which will become an invaluable resource when open to the public. Despite not being open to public, we get approximately 5 enquiries a week, which keeps everybody involved in the Collection very busy. It is an important resource for genealogical and historical research, providing an example of a social history collection as seen through the eyes of the police force.

  • 6. Why is a Curator needed?

    It is vital that a collection of such historical importance as that of Devon & Cornwall Police has a museum professional at the forefront of its safeguarding. One reason for this is the particular nature of a police collection; an understanding of its importance is required. This includes its specific aims, its history, and needs (emotive material, information protection requirements). Coupled with this, a curator provides the necessary understanding of the professional museum standards and processes involved in caring for, cataloguing and preserving collections, which s/he is then able to disseminate to other staff and volunteers. A curator is also required to keep aware of, and apply to, opportunities and funding at local and national levels, as well as being the key advocate for its protection and advancement.

  • 7. What is the ‘Driving Heritage’ van?

    The ‘Driving Heritage’ project was designed and developed by the Curator, Angela Sutton-Vane in 2008, with a grant of £38,920 under the ‘Your Heritage’ Heritage Lottery Fund scheme. The Driving Heritage project included purchasing a bespoke van, outreach boxes and equipment, the funding of an Education Officer for 1 year and taking the stored collections out across Devon and Cornwall. It reached around 5000 people with this pop-up museum. After this 2 year project ended, the van was gifted to the Friends of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary Heritage and Learning Resource, who are now trying to take over some of this outreach work and continue the good work the project started. The van is now back on the road, MOT’d, taxed, insured and full liability insurance for Friends activities is in place. The volunteers are happy to attend pre booked community events when they can display such items as replica objects, activity boxes for young people as well as information on the South West’s policing heritage. Police officers may loan and drive the van themselves. At least four weeks’ notice is required for its loan. Contact the Friends for more information

  • 8. Where can I find out more?

    If you would like more information about the project, would like to discuss donating an object to the Historic Collection, or have a research question you would like to ask, please contact us by:

01837 650829

Phones are only managed part time

Devon & Cornwall Constabulary Heritage & Learning Resource
Okehampton Police Station
Exeter Road
Devon EX20 1NN

Chairman: Andy Bickley
Vice Chair: Miss Pam Giles
Secretary: Miss Jane Wilkinson
Treasurer: Mrs. Sue Crowley
Van rep: Brian Edmunds
Webmaster: Andy Francis