DEVON and Cornwall Police’s Historic Collection department has received a huge boost with the news it has been awarded a grant of £9,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Start Up Grants programme.

Angela Sutton-Vane, curator for the force’s Historic Collections, came up with the idea for the development of the Policing Past Community Present project.

She aims to ensure it will create a heritage resource and community hub and intends to listen to advice, explore ideas and bring together partners from across the South-West.

Additional support from the police, the Community Council of Devon and a generous donation from John Casson, an ex-police officer and businessman, has brought the total project value for Stage One to just under £18,000.

The collection not only contains uniforms and truncheons but holds murder files, weapons, extensive archives of documents and photographs – items which pose complex challenges around display and interpretation.

Commenting on the importance of the grant award, Nerys Watts, HLF’s Head of South West said: “The outcomes we want to achieve through our new Start Up Grants programmes are that heritage will be better managed; that people will have developed skills; and that organisations will be more resilient. The ‘Policing Past Community Present’ project has fantastic potential to deliver all those outcomes and in doing so to ensure that an important and fascinating historic collection is preserved and made available for future generations to appreciate and better understand. That was why we were so delighted to be able to support Angela and her team with the work they are now taking forward.”

Although the project is set to run for five years, the first six-month stage has just been launched and this will focus on the formation of a new charitable trust to protect the collection, together with a dynamic ‘social enterprise’ with clear social missions.

Together these new organisations will enable long-term decisions around housing and financing to be made and increase opportunities for fundraising and income generation.