July 2, 2012 1.34 pm This story is over 136 months old

Budget cuts leave Lincolnshire Police at risk

Harsh cuts: Lincolnshire Police may be at risk from the cuts, according to HMIC.

— Later updated with Lincolnshire Police’s response to the report

Lincolnshire Police are at risk of not providing a full service to residents due to the cuts in policing, according to an HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report.

In the report, Lincolnshire Police, along with two other forces in the UK, “may not be able to provide a sufficiently efficient or effective service”.

HMIC noticed that Lincolnshire was one of the forces planning on the largest cuts in staff (non-officer roles), with an overall reduction of around 51%.

Lincolnshire Police also has one of the higher levels of collaborating and outsourcing, due to the new contract with G4S. This will lead to a significant reduction in staff levels.

Lincolnshire police’s reduction in staff is high. Click to zoom.

Despite these cuts, Lincolnshire will only make planned savings of around 18%.

Presently, just over 60% of officers and PCSOs are in visible roles in Lincolnshire, with those visible and also available at 11.8%.

Most significantly, Lincolnshire has seen a small increase in crime since the cuts, with a 3% rise – the second highest rise in the country.

On average, there are approximately 65 crimes per 1,000 residents in Lincolnshire.

However, HMIC stressed that there is no direct correlation between the cuts and the crime levels in the UK.

On the positive, Lincolnshire Police are trying to keep their frontline staff reduction as low as possible, looking to only cut 3% of jobs by 2015, and keep 91% of police officers on the frontline.

Overall, residents are also generally happy with the level of policing in the county, with a 2% rise in satisfaction levels (83% satisfaction rate).

Lincolnshire Police have to make £21 million in savings by 2015.

Across the country, there are now 8,600 fewer police officers on the streets, but this number could rise to 15,000 by 2015 due to further cuts, warns HMIC.

The department added: “Forces are making their required savings primarily by reducing their workforce.

“By March 2015, this means that there will be significant cuts to the workforce: but despite this, current estimates show that the workforce split of officers, PCSOs and police staff will remain relatively stable, with a marginal increase in the proportion of police officers (in comparison with March 2010).

“However, the workforce projections for 2015 should be treated with caution.

“While it is to be expected that forces will continue to refine their plans, the service still needs to meet the outstanding financial gap. This could demand considerable further reductions in workforce numbers.”

Lincolnshire Police response to HMIC

Lincolnshire Police responded to the report by HMIC, which the force received at the same time as the press and public.

The force stresses that it welcomes the report, and is keen to address the issues raised to reassure taxpayers that the service is still affective and good value for their money:

“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 1,722 fewer victims in Lincolnshire and a positive picture the force is determined to sustain and build upon.

“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.

“At the start of the Comprehensive Spending Review period Lincolnshire Police had 1,208 officers, we now have 1,114. Further reductions are necessary to achieve the budgetary gap of £3.5 million.

“We can tell the public that of the 1,114 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. There is simply no pool of officers spending their time at HQ who could be better employed on the streets.”

To see all the facts and figures, browse the official document below:

Source: HMIC | Related Reports: BBC News, Lincolnshire Echo