A new inspection report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found that while Lincolnshire Police is an effective force despite its complicated area, there is concern about its financial future.
The report, undertaken by HMI Zoë Billingham, described Lincolnshire as a challenging area to police, due to the majority of its population living in one area – Lincoln. It also has a student population, and high levels of deprivation along the east coast, plus “substantial numbers” of workers from Eastern Europe working within the agricultural sector of the county.
It is the third largest policing area in the county, however it is below the national rate for victim-based crimes (0.04 per person — national average is 0.05) and cost to the public (42p each per day, rather than 55p).
Despite this, the report found that Lincolnshire Police is effective in tackling anti-social behaviour and providing support to victims.
It was also praised for its work with other organisations such as local councils to understand local priorities as a way of tackling crime.
It has also undertaken some good work in dealing with domestic abuse and child exploitation, and using restorative justice.
The report described the force’s current way of dealing with the funding challenge as “outstanding”: Lincolnshire Police has saved over £20 million in the past four years.
Despite HMIC’s praise, there are still a number of areas that are in need of improvement, and also cause concern.
In particular, HMIC is worried about how the force will rise to future saving challenges beyond 2016.
The force will have to make more savings whilst still maintaining a certain level of service to residents — and keep within budget.
Additionally, HMIC remains concerned that the force’s ability to investigate crime is not being adequately managed. The report described delays in the process and inconsistencies in practices, which could lead to offenders not being brought to justice may be limited. Plus, HMIC found the approach to integrated offender management is “weak”.
Zoë Billingham added: “Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of inspections made of Lincolnshire Police that have suggested that the need for better management of how quickly crimes are allocated to officers is a recurrent issue.
“I will be interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement across a range of areas over the next 12 months.”
Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, Neil Rhodes, welcomed the results of the inspection report this week.
He said: “This report is a powerful endorsement of the force’s current performance despite our difficult financial circumstances.
“We are recognised as ‘Good’ in terms of our effectiveness at reducing crime and preventing offending. HMIC have also rated Lincolnshire Police as ‘Good’ at tackling anti-social behaviour. In the area of investigation the Inspectorate have suggested we should improve and we already working hard to do that.
“This report follows a report earlier this year in which HMIC graded us ‘Outstanding’ for delivering affordable policing. I am proud of how we continue to innovate and make the best of the money we have.
“But we have the lowest levels of overall funding in the country. Further cuts will undoubtedly mean we cannot maintain our current service beyond 2016. It is essential that the government acts now if we are to avoid the public being put at greater risk in the future.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner and I are committed to working with the Home Secretary to develop an approach to funding that will give a fairer deal to Lincolnshire.”
Read the report in full on the HMIC website.