High Sheriff of Devon presents an award to the Museum volunteers for their ‘great and valuable services to the community’

Police museum Devon

Volunteers at the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall were proud to receive an award from the High Sheriff of Devon shortly before he handed over to his successor.

The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel presented the High Sheriff’s award to the Museum volunteers in recognition of the work that has gone on behind the scenes, cataloguing the archive material in Exeter, curating artefacts kept in stores at Okehampton Police Station, and opening the new mini premises to the public at Tavistock.

Attending the recent official opening of the mini-Museum in Tavistock, where he presented the High Sheriff’s award, the Rt. Rev McKinnel told the volunteers the accolade was given to those who made a ‘significant contribution to a community’, acknowledging their ‘enormous amount of work’ spanning 17 years.

He said: “After I visited Okehampton and saw all the work that was going on there, and the amount of time that people were giving, the expertise, and the way that it was enriching the history of the community and the police force – to understand and know our roots – I said I would be delighted to give a High Sheriff’s award in recognition of great and valuable services to the community.”

Pam Giles, Museum volunteer and trustee, who joined Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in 1975, said: “A lot of the archive and collection has been saved from skips and tips, and it’s important it is protected.

“When people started forming the collection, they didn’t realise the importance of what they were doing.”

Police museum Devon
Some of the Museum volunteers pictured here, left to right: Vehicle restorer Ralph Delbridge, Derek Crowley, Keith Tester, Sue Crowley, who all volunteer with the artefacts at the stores in Okehampton, High Sheriff of Devon – The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel, Pam Giles, Peter Hinchliffe, Jazmine Montier, Jane Mahany, who all volunteer at the Museum archive, based in Exeter. Photo: Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall.

The Museum stores its vast collection of artefacts at Okehampton Police Station. Its archive of thousands of documents and photographs are kept at the Devon Heritage Centre, in Exeter. And it has a mini premises in Tavistock, which is open to the public.

The Museum began 17 years ago, with six people around a table at the Middlemoor police headquarters, in Exeter, to discuss how the collection should be preserved.

The hunt to secure suitable premises where the public could visit took more than a decade to achieve.

The Museum first set its sights on the Tavistock Court Gate building in 2021, then secured funding through a grant to sign a long-term lease.

It is currently working towards achieving Museum Accreditation, where it must follow national standards in managing the collection.

Planned exhibits for 2024 include personal stories charting the history of the region’s women in policing.

Pam, who retired from the force in 2003 and was Devon and Cornwall’s first resident female police motorcyclist, said: “My hope now is for a permanent space for the collection and to see the digitisation project develop so more people have access to the archive.”

Become a Museum volunteer: Email the Curator, Alison Holmes