COVID-19 and the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall: New ways of working

The Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall has adapted to new ways of working amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has affected the world in a colossal way. It has affected our politics, culture, health, society, and of course has taken countless lives. For the Museum of Policing in Devon and Cornwall, it has slowed our period of change, which would otherwise have been a much more exciting year (2020) for us and the collections.

In 2020 we gained a new Archivist and a new Operations Manager, who are both young and qualified to take the museum in a new and exciting direction. Proper and standardised approaches to all areas of the museum’s work have now been adopted, from policies, procedures, new forms, administration, enquiries, volunteering, cataloguing, conservation and preservation of the collections.

The entire physical archive and much of the thousands of photographic materials have now been transferred to proper archival storage at the South West Heritage Centre in Exeter, and are available to be viewed in the archives search room (Covid-19 dependent). The cataloguing software has also been updated to a new and more user-friendly software. which will allow for our digital files to be integrated into a digital preservation system linked with the Devon Heritage Centre.

A re-vamp of our social media content and the emergence of volunteer led projects, such as our new Facebook identification group for ex-police officers, who have kindly been identifying their ex-colleagues for our collections, has kept us all very busy.

All of these amazing things were carried out in a year when we were all asked to stay at home. As you can imagine, along with everyone else our progress with these tasks slowed, and it took a while to find our feet with working from home and with limited volunteer help at times. Zoom meetings have become a new standard, and we have had to adapt to communication via email more frequently and adjusting to using as many digital resources as possible for the sharing of ideas, data, and information.

At the beginning of the year, we welcomed many new volunteers to our work at Exeter and some at Okehampton Police Station, but unfortunately the virus meant that we have now spent a year without seeing many of these new friends and kind-hearted helpers. Access to buildings where we keep our collections continues to be restricted due to the lockdowns, but we have always been quick to react by doing as much as we can from home.

With new vaccines on their way we hope that 2021 will be a year in which we can see more volunteers return to helping us with our work, reach more people, develop new and exciting exhibitions, and push ahead at full-steam to unlock our collections for all to enjoy.