I’m looking forward to 2014 with more than a degree of optimism because I’m confident we can build on the successes of this year.
The entire Lincolnshire policing ‘family’ — officers, Special Constables, PCSOs, staff and volunteers — have achieved a great deal. Crime continues to fall and, despite the government’s eagerness to cut deeper into police funding, I will honour my commitment to maintain the number of front line officers.
But it’s not just about numbers. For any force to be effective, the key is good management; in other words, how those officers are deployed to make best use of their commitment, professionalism, training and skills for the benefit of the people they serve. More than 98% of our officers are on the front line, which is a higher proportion than many other forces.
As to their effectiveness, the proof (if any was needed) was most publicly provided in their response to the recent devastating flooding in and around Boston. With other emergency services, local authorities, volunteers and partners, they worked tirelessly to help cope with the crisis. At the same time, the force was policing Lincoln Christmas Market, with its hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Resilient? Able to respond to major and fast-changing situations? Professional? Committed? Oh yes. Not just during widespread emergencies, but all day and every day. That’s why I’m proud of every member of the policing family.
As an aside, one of my lasting memories of 2013 came when I toured the highly efficient Boston clean-up operation accompanied by a PCSO. We stopped to talk to a man who was surrounded by piles of his ruined possessions. “This will be the third skip full,” he said. Then he smiled and raised a mug of steaming tea, adding: “As long as I can still make a cuppa, I’ll be OK.”
It was not the only time I witnessed people getting on with their lives despite the ravages of flood water. I also know of the tremendous efforts made by local authorities and other agencies to help people who were unable to help themselves. I want to put my thanks and admiration on public record.
During the New Year, Lincolnshire will be the first force in the UK — but not,I believe, the last — to put volunteer PCSOs on the streets. I’ve met our first trainees, along with their PCSO mentors, and I was more than ever convinced that our pioneering initiative will be a success.
Work with the County Council that covers many projects concerned with community safety and victim care will continue to be a priority, as will regional collaboration with the other East Midlands forces that provides resilience in tackling major crime.
My Community and Volunteer Fund will continue to award grants of up to £1,000 for initiatives that have a crime reduction or crime prevention basis. So far, the grants have gone towards a wide variety of schemes from youth clubs to helping to pay for security locks for the homes of vulnerable people. The scheme is explained on my website.
During 2013 I’ve spoken to hundreds, if not thousands, of people face-to-face at all kinds of events. I’ve also toured our police stations and district police ‘boxes’ to meet as many staff, officers and volunteers as possible.
This will continue in 2014 because the people who know most about the problems and needs of their communities are those who live and work there. It’s been a valuable experience. I’m more than ready, once more, for the brickbats and occasional bouquets.
In the meantime, my sincere best wishes for a happy and peaceful New Year.
Before being elected as Commissioner in 2012, Mr Hardwick worked as a communications professional on newspapers, radio, television and latterly with Lincolnshire Police Authority. Throughout his career, he built up a wide experience of police and policing in the UK. He is passionate about Lincolnshire and about ensuring – with the Chief Constable – the effectiveness and efficiency of a force that has recently been praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Prime Minister.