“It has been a privilege to be Chief Constable” – Chris Haward reflects on his time at the helm of Lincolnshire Police
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As Chief Constable Chris Haward enters his last few days with the force, he looks back on the past three years and talks about the highlights, challenges and unique nature of policing in Lincolnshire.
Mr Haward said:
“As I enter the last few days of my service with Lincolnshire Police it is with a great deal of sadness that I now write this article. The last three years have been, without question, the best of my 32 ½ years’ service to date. Probationers, when I meet them, regularly asked me ‘which rank is the best’ and my stock answer has always (until now) been “sergeant” – it is fair to say being Chief has eclipsed this. It is a huge honour and responsibility to sit at the top of any organisation and I have strived to do my best at all times. I came in at a time of huge change as the G4S Strategic Partnership came to an end, merging the two parts of the organisation (G4S and Police) into a single organisation. This was a difficult transition for many, but I think Lincolnshire Police is better for the change with streamlined decision making, improved team working and a collective sense of identity which didn’t exist before. There is still much to do on this, especially for the people who moved across from G4S and I know this work will be continued as I step aside.
“At the same time, I inherited a force which had consistently been at the bottom of the Police Federation ‘Pay and Morale’ survey for three years running. Taking this into account, together with critical issues about culture and behaviour affecting confidence in the police nationally, I determined that ‘Culture’ should be a core strand of my strategy and something which must be a priority in any police force today. Our people are our most precious asset and ensuring we have a strong and positive culture is critical to ensuring we provide the best service we possibly can to our communities. The work of everyone in the force on the culture and behaviours expected of policing has been outstanding and, despite carrying the highest workloads per officer of any force in the UK, our officers are now the 5th most likely to recommend policing to friends and family! I hope the force will continue on this journey in the future as I do believe it is the bedrock of a good service and encourages better understanding, inclusivity and respect for all.
“Operationally I have had to make some tough decisions because of the ridiculous funding position Lincolnshire Police face when compared to other forces across the country. The loss of nearly half of our PCSOs is something I regret hugely – the decision itself was the right one given the need to balance the books but if there had been any other way, I would have taken it. I hope future funding settlements are more sympathetic to the difficulties in Lincolnshire and future Chief Constables are not placed in the same invidious position I faced. Nevertheless, we remodelled our Neighbourhood Policing structures and focussed on the areas of greatest threat, risk and harm whilst adding an additional 13 police officers to the teams. I am pleased that the neighbourhood crime figures are now falling and this focus in key areas is starting to reap dividends.
“On a similar theme, the Rural Crime Action Team have had a massive impact on rural crimes from wildlife protection to hare coursing and heritage thefts. I must admit to being a little ignorant on the impact of such crimes when I arrived having never policed such a rural county, but I quickly saw the damage and fear such crimes create in Lincolnshire, and this is inexcusable. I know from the feedback we have received that the RCAT are very much appreciated in our rural communities, and I am delighted this investment has been worth every penny. Further investment was also made in creating a Roads Policing Unit to improve the safety of our roads and deny criminals use of them. For the first time in over a decade we are seeing the number of ‘Killed and Seriously Injured’ road accidents falling – a huge result for the team with many lives saved and life changing injuries avoided.
“There are so many areas of business where Lincs are outstanding – our 999 call handling, Digital Forensics, major crime investigation, critical incident management, our POLIT (Paedophile Online Investigation Team) and many, many more. The role of policing has expanded (even exploded) in the 30 years since I joined, and this change has been even more rapid in the past decade as technology advances. Despite this we still have fewer officers than a decade ago with hundreds of new crime types to investigate and ‘non-crime’ to investigate too! This, and the virtual world, is going to remain an ever-increasing challenge for policing into the next decade and beyond. Our presence must span across the real world and the virtual world, our visibility has to be measured in each and not just seen in traditional ‘bobbies on the beat’. Finding this balance, and gaining public understanding and support, is not easy.
“As I move on, I will be taking up a new role as the national coordinator for Serious and Organised Crime. Part of that role will be to explore how we can better tackle this online harm against the wider threat of organised criminality in our communities. I hope to continue working with Lincolnshire Police as well as other forces across the country and other law enforcement partners to find ways to do this effectively, protecting the most vulnerable in society whilst bringing the most harmful to justice. It is an exciting challenge and one that will, somewhat, ease the sadness of leaving Lincolnshire.
“I wish my successor and everyone in Lincolnshire the very best success in the future. It has been a privilege to be the Chief Constable and I will look back on my time here with great fondness.”