The Museum of Policing in Devon & Cornwall is appealing for volunteers to help at its new mini-museum, in Tavistock, and with its digitisation project at its sites in Exeter and Okehampton.

Learn why a swimming bear was at Dartmoor Prison, how swan beaks helped solve the Devon murder of a shoe fortune heiress, why a Rolex watch jailed an identity theft killer near Teignmouth, the unusual way women were moved by the region’s police in the early 1900s, how a child’s disappearance led to a failed wish for mounted police across two counties, if a pilot survived wedging his plane between two homes in Cornwall, and when Isles of Scilly residents stockpiled shoes and smoked sea-soaked tobacco.

Delve into the history, heritage and true crimes of Devon and Cornwall and help a museum dedicated to policing showcase its archive and collection.

The Museum of Policing in Devon & Cornwall recently opened its micro premises in Tavistock and is digitising its collection and archive.

But help is needed to keep the charity’s free mini-museum open to the public, plus lend a hand with its ongoing digitisation project to scan, photograph and catalogue everything in its collection and archive.

Volunteers helping at our sites in Okehampton, Exeter and Tavistock can claim mileage and expenses.

Keith Tester, a volunteer with the museum since March, has recorded and photographed high-profile crime evidence, vintage uniform, memorabilia, retro equipment, and historical documents as part of the ongoing digitisation project.

He said: “It is fascinating to see what we have in our vast collections and archive, and to tap into the knowledge of the people I work with.

“I feel privileged to be discovering the history of policing, the stories behind the objects we have, and my part in helping to preserve it.

He added: “I’ve been able to use my creative photography skills to help the museum show the public what it looks after.”

Keith said volunteering after retirement has helped him stay mentally and physically active. 

His DIY skills proved instrumental in the museum opening a micro premises in Tavistock; Keith volunteered to paint and decorate the interior, and help the curator with the displays, including suspending a traditional police bike from the ceiling.

Keith said: “I really enjoy being part of a great team of volunteers and staff who all believe in what they are doing.”