HMIC Report on Policing in Austerity - one year on
Response from Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire Police Authority
- Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire Police Authority welcome today’s HMIC report, Policing in Austerity – one year on.
- Advance copies of this report have not been available and Lincolnshire Police received theirs via the HMIC Website alongside press and media outlets at 10.30 am today. We are considering the rich contextual information it now provides that enable us to look at the Lincolnshire position alongside other forces.
- The report requires careful reading and analysis, which is now taking place.
- Lincolnshire is served by a police force and a police authority committed to a modernising agenda that will continue to deliver excellent public service and good value for taxpayers’ money.
- Key issues emerging from the report highlight comparative force performance, budgetary issues, reduction in police officer numbers and the proposition of police officers and PCSOs involved in front line roles. Let’s address these issues.
Comparative performance – At the end of December 2011 the county suffered a spate of metal thefts and austerity crimes that led to an overall crime increase of 2.9% in that period. Aggressive police action, coupled with across the board performance improvements has seen a very different picture this year with a 14.83% reduction in crime, that’s 1722 fewer victims in Lincolnshire and a positive picture the force is determined to sustain and build upon. This is acknowledged in the detailed report on Lincolnshire.
Budgetary issues – The force-specific report highlights the fact that Lincolnshire Police provides policing at the lowest cost, per head of population (£171 per annum) in the country. Relentless efficiency drives and partnership with the private sector has seen the leanest force in the country become even leaner, whilst improving performance. Policing Minister Nick Herbert has taken a personal interest in all that Lincolnshire is doing and he will be visiting us on July 23 to see things for himself. However, there remains a budget gap (over £3m per annum) in the years ahead and very limited means remaining to close that gap. The Chairman of the Authority and the Chief Constable look forward to discussing options with him during his forthcoming visit.
Reduction of police officer numbers – At the start of the Comprehensive Spending Review period Lincolnshire Police had 1208 officers, we now have 1114. Further reductions are necessary to achieve the budgetary gap of £3.5 million.
Proportion of officers and PCSOs on the front line – Lincolnshire Police has always had a high proportion of its officers on the front line. This report supports that. The report adopts a complex calculation to work numbers out. We can tell the public that of the 1114 officers we currently have, only 23, including the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable, do not have a significant crime fighting component to their work. In all cases their roles require police knowledge, if not warranted powers – but we keep this under review. There is simply no pool of officers spending their time at HQ who could be better employed on the streets.
In summary, Lincolnshire Police is a forward looking and progressive organisation. It is the most cost-effective in the country, has embraced a modernising agenda and delivers good performance. Despite a strong savings profile a funding gap remains and we look forward to discussing ways to bridge that gap with the Policing Minister later this month.