New chief foresees ‘crossroads’ as force awaits funding

Bill Skelly
Bill Skelly

The new chief of Lincolnshire Police has described the force as coming to a ‘crossroads’ as it awaits a Government announcement over funding.

Chief Constable Bill Skelly, who officially took on his role on February 1, said the Government’s decision over funding will create two options for police bosses.

He said: “We will know a lot more as to what the impact of that will be towards the end of spring/start of summer.

“That will be a crossroads because either it will allow us to continue to have the resources that we have in terms of people and blue lights or we will need to have a review of where we are in the next three-four years.”

He said, however, that he would be looking to maintain officer numbers.

Mr Skelly joined the force from Devon and Cornwall Police, where he had been Deputy Chief Constable since December 2013.

He said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. The last seven days have been a really warm welcome and it’s been really good to meet some of the partners as well.

“It was also an amazing start as we had Princess Anne visit headquarters on the same day.”

Mr Skelly has started exploring his new territory and has already met with officers in the custody suite at Boston.

“I’m still in the process of exploring the area and getting out within towns and local villages,” he said.

“I’m very much at the start of the process.”

Mr Skelly thanked the Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, who has recently agreed to a 1.9 per cent increase in the police precept, and his predecessor Neil Rhodes.

He said he was privileged to have joined ‘at this time’.

Recent HMIC inspections have gone ‘very well’ he observed and he said he would be looking at a number of issues - guided by the public.

“I’d be very keen to hear from members of the public and our partners as I go around the county on how we can work together to reduce those issues,” he said.

He added: “Many of these issues are long standing and won’t necessarily cease to be or dealt with overnight.”

He doesn’t feel that having a uniform on the street is necessarily the best way to increase visibility - with other methods such as social media being used instead.

He said: “Visibility is an important element to the service in Lincolnshire that can take many forms, not just someone in a florescent jacket walking down the street.

“It’s not necessarily the best use of resource to reduce crime or harm.

“It’s a conversation I’m expecting to have and will welcome having to reassure communities the service is looking to be more visible but that doesn’t necessarily mean people walking round in visible jackets.”

Mr Skelly acknowledged that many issues faced around the county are also faced in other parts of the country, for example by farming communities.

He added: “Hare coursing is an area of priority concern.”

He also said the force would be looking at how they can better work with partner organisations to intervene in some issues, such as those involving alcohol.

Mr Skelly praised a downward trend in crime figures nationally, and said Lincolnshire was doing ‘fantastically well as a force area’.

He said a rise in recorded violent crime was impacted by offences such as bullying and harassment, which are now classed as violent crimes.