Damian Green, the Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice, has praised Lincolnshire Police and the work done in Lincoln to tackle anti-social behaviour.
He was invited to Lincoln by city MP Karl McCartney, and visited the Ermine and Moorland areas, finishing his visit at The Showroom activities centre off Tritton Road.
Damian Green said: “I’m really impressed with the work [The Showroom] do here and the sheer range of activities available.
“Even more importantly, it’s plugged into the local community — they’ve got links to local schools, so a lot of the kids from these schools will come here.
“I think it’s really important to give kids something to do and a sense of structure — that they know that people out there care about them.
“I’m particularly impressed with the PCSOs in areas of Lincoln traditionally regarded as difficult.
“I think that’s a message others can take from Lincoln – that the people responsible for law enforcement are actually doing a lot of prevention of criminal activity by getting involved at an early stage and by giving young people useful things to do.
“Prevention is better than cure, and there seems to be a lot of good preventative projects happening in Lincoln.
“All forces are under financial pressure at the minute. I think the Lincolnshire force has coped very well and is continuing to cope well.
“I think the way they are doing it is innovative — they signed the 10-year deal with G4S, and I looked around a control room where not only are they able to do it within their spending cuts but also in a way that the response time for 999 calls is better than it used to be.
“The collaboration with other forces in the Midlands I think is very much they way forward,” the minister added.
Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Neil Rhodes said: “Anti-social behaviour is a really important crime for us to address because it’s important to the community.
“What we’ve been able to do today is let the Police Minister meet with some of our Lincolnshire communities and the officers and PCSOs who work with them, and see some of the initiatives that take place.
“He’s seen a deprived area of the Ermine estate and he’s also come down to Moorland to see some exciting initiatives that are taking place in The Showroom.
“We understand that the overall policing pot will probably reduce in years to come. What’s most important for us is that Lincolnshire gets its fair share of funding available.
“We’ve been talking to the minister today about the work that we do, the number of police officers we have, and the appropriate level of funding for Lincolnshire that sees us able to remain at the cost of being in business.
“Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect an increase in funding, but what we’re trying to do is avoid future decreases.
“We have a budget that is around £5 million a year lower than it would be if we hadn’t taken a private sector partner on board [G4S]. It operates in the background, it operates quietly, and so far it’s operated successfully.
“Lincolnshire residents should have seen no difference in service, and even on occasion seen a better quality in service because we’re able to keep more officers on the front line that we wouldn’t have been able to.
“It’s on our agenda to make sure operational officers have as much capacity as they can have. I don’t want officers having to return to the station to type information to computers – they should be able to go into someone’s home, take a report, type it into a modern device and that should update our central systems immediately.
“They should be able then to stay out on patrol. That’s the work that we’re doing, and the partner that provides our IT systems is already doing some of that work on our behalf. It’s a police initiative to keep police officers on patrol.
“We recently launched the East Midlands Operational Support Service. Four forces across the East Midlands – Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire – will be working together on policing, dogs and specialist search to make the most of expertise we have together.
“What it offers for Lincolnshire is real resilience, because if we have a big incident to deal with, we can draw on officers from across the four forces.
“There aren’t a lot of savings in it for us, but it was never about savings — but if the other counties can get their costs down to the same level as Lincolnshire’s they see some real bonuses come through.”