Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall: Preserving police history and heritage

At the start of 2020, the Museum of Devon and Cornwall Policing hit the ground running – with clear aims to preserve police history and heritage across the two counties and the Isles of Scilly.

With an experienced and engaged board of trustees, a significant volunteer cohort and a driven and ambitious staff, collections plans were in motion, funding was being applied for and cataloging was progressing.

Of course, we all know what happened next. With the pandemic instigating a national lockdown, 2020 plans were put on hold as the whole world pivoted to address the new working environment triggered by coronavirus. And the museum was no exception.

A grant from the Devon and Cornwall Police afforded the museum an opportunity to completely re-negotiate how – in the context of a pandemic – we could still work on progressing our key objectives: to collect, preserve and celebrate the historic collections of the Devon and Cornwall Police by cataloguing and unlocking the breadth of the collections for an intergenerational audience to enjoy.

With the same ambitious board, committed volunteers and staff, we got to work on building a future that was inclusive, that expanded our reach to include and champion underrepresented people in heritage, and that innovated the ways in which policing heritage was engaged with.

Today, as we experience our third lockdown, our work and progress remain undeterred. We want to reimagine policing heritage so that the young and the old, anyone from police officers, surfers, school children and TikTokkers engage with policing history.

Because the collections are kaleidoscopic. They capture two sides of the policing coin; the history of the force, and the communities it served. This inclusive history offers fragments of memories for all of us to enjoy, and we can’t wait to unlock these memories and histories to you all in 2021.