Reflections 2011: A momentous year for policing

Richard Crompton is the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police


2011 has been a momentous year for policing. During the first half of the year, domestic news was dominated by phone hacking allegations, summer rioting, and the impact of cuts in public spending. We saw a Commissioner resign, quickly followed by an Assistant Commissioner, the blame game played over the disturbances, and a fairly confusing debate about whether 20% cuts to the police budget will result in fewer cops on the street. So what does all of that mean for Lincolnshire?

Well our year has seen us reshape and reorganise what we do. We will save millions of pounds over the next three years in order to protect and improve our service, despite the cut in budget. We have lost around one hundred members of our support staff, we have reduced the number of police officers, dispensed with divisional boundaries and we have joined up with the four other forces in the East Midlands to create a Major Crime Team and a host of other specialist crime units.

With the Police Authority we have been leading the country in a process that we hope will identify a private sector business partner to work with us over the next decade to help transform policing in this county. There will be fewer police officers in future, but everything we are doing is designed to ensure that service doesn’t suffer, and that every penny that we have is spent wisely.

Much of this change has been tough and like many others at the moment, our staff are worried about the future. Nonetheless, my experience is that they are overwhelmingly committed to providing the best policing service they can to the people of Lincolnshire. Despite the changes, crime and anti social behaviour have reduced, detection rates continue to improve, and confidence and satisfaction have risen.

But the surveys and statistics only tell part of the story. During the year I have received hundreds of letters from the public thanking me for the professionalism, dedication and kindness of my officers and staff, and I have had the honour of commending many of them for their outstanding work and bravery.

Their contribution has not ended at the county boundary. We sent officers to London and to Nottinghamshire during the violent disturbances where they acted with distinction and courage. I am proud of their contribution, and of the national effort made by UK policing under extraordinary circumstances.

There is no doubt that lessons are being learnt now the crisis is over. Sadly, however, it is all too easy for armchair critics who have never taken life and death decisions, or faced anything more threatening than a hot word processor, to blame the police for the criminal behaviour of others.

So as Christmas and the New Year approaches, it seems even more important than ever for me to thank my staff for all that they have done during 2011. They know that next year will be at least as challenging as we do our bit to support the policing of the Olympic Games, continue with our ambitious change programme, and say farewell to our Police Authority and hello to the first elected Police and Crime Commissioner.

Most importantly, I want to add my thanks to the people of Lincolnshire. Without your support we could not police this county. We rely upon the information you give us, the help you provide as special constables and as volunteers, and on occasions for the physical assistance that you have given in sometimes dangerous situations. The relationship we have is what makes policing in this country special. Long may it remain so!