Councillors concerned over police cutbacks

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REDUCTIONS to policing levels continue to cast concerns over the force’s ability to effectively combat crime in Skegness.

At a Skegness Town Council meeting on Thursday, councillors questioned Inspector Terry Ball about how his staff would be able to maintain policing levels in the wake of significant staffing cuts.

Coun Neil Cooper asked: “Because of the financial cuts to Lincolnshire Police we are looking at having 70 less police officers and potentially 90 civilian staff cuts, how is that going to affect your ability to police next year?”

Although Inspector Ball admitted his concerns at the reductions he assured councillors that he was confident the force’s recent restructuring would enable police officers to continue responding efficiently to crimes in and around the Skegness area.

“I would like to have more staff but it is accepted that we need to make reductions, but that does not mean that we are going to get a reduction in service - maybe we can give you even more than before,” he said.

Lincolnshire Police has moved from being a three divisional operation to a single force, which Inspector Ball claimed would enable officers from a wider area to be called upon to respond to emergencies across the county.

However some councillors remained unconvinced that a restructured force could make up for such extensive cuts.

Coun George Saxon said: “If you are spread really thin and something goes on in Theddlethorpe, what will happen in Skegness?”

Inspector Ball said that he had carefully worked out where the demand for officers is and that staff had been moved to where they needed to be and further concerns about the effect of moving towards a centralized police force were raised by Coun Steve O’Dare who feared it could result in the loss of individual localised knowledge for Skegness.

Despite the various worries expressed Inspector Ball was able to mention additional changes that had been brought in which he believed would be an improvement.

Officers are now required to dedicate two, two hour slots of each shift to speaking to people who have reported crimes to ensure everyone who wants to speak to a police officer can.

He also said that because the majority of officers leaving the force will be older, the force as a whole will be younger and therefore more enthusiastic.

And despite the cuts assurances were made that the bulk of officers would continue to be pushed toward ‘forward facing policing.’

l Do you think policing will suffer because of the cuts? Email andrew.hirst@jpress.co.uk or call 01754 897 120.