Fears over police service’s future

LINCOLNSHIRE Police is one of only three forces in the UK, feared to be unable to provide an effective service in the future, an independent report has warned.

HM Inspectors of Constabulary’s ‘Policing In Austerity One Year On’ report has revealed ‘multiple concerns about the position they are in and the current plans to manage the spending review reductions.’

The Mayor of Skegness Coun Mark Anderson has said he was not surprised by the report and hopes the town’s MP Mark Simmonds will lobby for more funding to assist the force in protecting the public.

He said: “Prior to the General Election our MP Mark Simmonds was pressing for more funding for Lincolnshire Police and since then we’ve seen these huge swingeing cuts by the coalition government so it’s no surprise this has come out.

“I think it’s an issue we need to take up with Mr Simmonds so he can lobby for more funding.”

Mr Simmonds still maintains that Lincolnshire is underfunded and has asked the government’s minister for policing to ‘look very closely at its funding allocation’.

He said: “Most of the police forces throughout the UK are adapting relatively well to the economic situation. With limited funds and increasing need, it is imperative that we find new ways of policing that are cost efficient and effective.

“Nationally the proportion of officers on the frontline is increasing, the number of neighbourhood officers has gone up, crime is down, victim satisfaction is improving and the response to emergency calls is being maintained.

“However, I am of course aware that Lincolnshire Police force has felt the challenge of deficit reduction because of historic underfunding.

“These challenges are made more difficult as the population the police force covers is not properly reflected in the funding formulae.”

The report has investigated how prepared forces across the UK are in coping with 20 per cent budget reductions imposed as part of the government’s austerity measures.

Although the HMIC believes forces have risen to the financial challenge by cutting their spending while maintaining services, it has expressed concerns about how long this will last without efficiency improvements.

As part of its saving measures, Lincolnshire Police intends to cut its staffing by more than 25 per cent - that’s the third largest reduction in the UK, well above the national average of 13.3 per cent. However, because the force is outsourcing much of its back office roles to the private sector, it has been able to retain one of the highest proportional planned front line work forces.

More worrying statistics featured in the report have identified Lincolnshire Police as having the second worst crime rate change of UK forces last year with a 2.9 per cent increase. However, in its response to the report, Lincolnshire Police has attributed that increase to a spate of metal thefts last year and explained that this year, ‘across the board performance improvements’ have led to a 14.83 per cent reduction in crime.

It provides policing at the lowest cost per head of the population at just £171 per year.