I was privileged recently to attend an awards ceremony at police HQ. The stories behind some of the awards and commendations quite rightly made headlines because the recipients displayed courage and a dedication to public service that was extraordinary.
Everyone who was there – including family and friends – deserved, and received, recognition and thanks. In different ways, they are all involved with the policing of the county.
The ethos of PRIDE (Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Empathy) runs deep in our police officers, staff and volunteers, and encourages the sort of commitment that helps to keep Lincolnshire one of the safest counties in the country.
As commissioner it’s my job to make sure that continues to be the case. I’m proud of the members of our policing family, whatever role they play; thanks to them I can look back on 2015 as yet another challenging but rewarding year.
Challenging because the types of crime that could threaten your safety and security are changing all the time. It’s not enough to play catch-up with criminals; effective policing means being one step ahead. It means catching criminals and driving down crime; it means using the latest technology to ensure that as many officers as possible are patrolling the county rather than being burdened with paperwork; it means working effectively with our partners in other forces, the wider criminal justice system, local authorities, and emergency services.
Reported crime in Lincolnshire continues to fall. The effectiveness of our officers will be enhanced by the introduction across the force of the latest communication technology.
Partnership working is perhaps the only aspect of our operations that I view with some caution – simply because many of the partners are public sector organisations facing tough financial decisions. I like to think that, where cuts are made, they won’t impact on the way in which we do business.
We operate at the second lowest cost per head of population in the country. By continuing a drive for efficiency we can face the future with confidence that you will continue to receive the policing you deserve.
Another positive during 2015 was the opportunity for me to commission a new service for victims and witnesses. Victim Lincs has been operational for only a few months, but the dedicated team has already received thousands of calls from people who need help at a traumatic time in their lives.
And, despite continuing financial pressure, I have kept my commitment to ensuring that the Chief Constable has sufficient funds so that officer numbers can remain at 1100, with 149 PCSOs.
In short, I have protected neighbourhood policing – which I have always considered to be the backbone of an effective force.
I’d like to thank the people of Lincolnshire who’ve made their own contribution to keeping the county safe by ensuring that their property and belongings are secure, for instance, taking a friendly interest in the welfare of neighbours, or maybe reporting incidents that cause concern to themselves or their community. For many people this sort of thing is second nature.
I’ll end by referring briefly to our long, hard-fought campaign for fairer government funding. The income I received from the Home Office in 2015/16 was £65.9m. The provisional figure for 2016/17 is £65.5m.
I cautiously welcome this, however the new funding formula which has been delayed must ensure those forces such as Lincolnshire that have a history of delivering efficiencies are not penalised in the future.
The new funding arrangements need to incentivise those less efficient forces into action. The Home Affairs Committee looking at reform of the formula seems to agree. The committee report says that any future formula must ensure that low cost per capita forces which anticipated potential reductions to their budgets and made the necessary efficiencies before others, are not unfairly penalised.
It adds that more should be done to reward or compensate those who have been historically more efficient. Of course I agree.
My best wishes for the festive season and for a happy and peaceful New Year.
My New Year’s Resolution
I never make them. But one of my hopes for 2016 is that those who make a positive difference to the lives of people in our county, in any capacity, continue their good work.
Before being elected as Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012, Alan Hardwick worked as a communications professional on newspapers, radio, television and latterly with Lincolnshire Police Authority.