One of the most important responsibilities of any Police and Crime Commissioner is to replace an outgoing Chief Constable and as many people will already be aware Lincolnshire Police will be bidding farewell to its Chief early in the New Year as he retires after 31 years of dedicated service.
Neil Rhodes has been an outstanding leader for Lincolnshire Police and remains very popular both within the force as well as amongst the wider Lincolnshire community and he will be a hard act for anyone to follow.
Working alongside Neil has been, and remains, a real privilege and I know that we will both continue to work together to deliver the sustainable financial future the force needs and the county deserves in the months to come, as well as maintaining the very high standards our residents expect from Lincolnshire Police.
When it comes to finding a suitable replacement there are a number of challenges which must be overcome, not least of which is the low number of qualified officers who can apply for the position.
Existing Chief Constables, Deputy Chief Constables and at the PCC’s discretion Assistant Chief Constables can apply. When you ask yourself how many of them will want to change roles, move home and very importantly be right for Lincolnshire then that field is very small.
To be very fair though there are some outstanding candidates from across the country and some very close to home, but you can’t just presume that they will apply or that they will ultimately be the very best candidate.
Under a recent change PCCs are now permitted to recruit a Chief Constable from overseas but very strictly only from New Zealand, Australia, Canada or America.
It would clearly take an exceptional individual to come from across the world and be a stronger candidate than our high calibre of home grown talent but I’m very open to looking for an exceptional individual wherever they are from.
I made the decision that as well as looking across the UK for Lincolnshire’s next Chief, adverts would also go out across the globe just to see if there is that exceptional person out there waiting for the challenge of taking our force forward into its next era.
I make no apologies for looking for the best applicant but equally my expectation remains that as a very efficient force delivering the forth lowest crime figures in the country we would be a very attractive proposition for the right UK candidate and I look forward to seeing who comes forward.
Huge changes are happening in the world of policing and here in Lincolnshire we are already investing in body worn video, mobile data devices and other technology which is rolling out across the county to ensure we meet those challenges.
New and emerging crime types such as protecting vulnerable people of all ages from online predators present a major drain to stretched resources.
We see a picture of rising demand and our officers and staff working ever harder to deliver the community safety we all want and expect.
Whoever the new Chief Constable of Lincolnshire ends up being they will inherit a force in good shape, a force that punches above its weight locally, regionally and nationally.
They will inherit a fine body of dedicated, hardworking officers, PCSOs and staff who give their all every day and deserve their welfare needs met by those in charge.
Most of all they will get the chance to live and work in the finest county this country has to offer and if they do the job as well as Chief Constable Neil Rhodes they won’t go far wrong.