Reflections 2018: Bill Skelly – A policing Christmas Carol

Spirit of Christmas Past…

In reflecting on the events of the last year, I am struck by the enormous support that Lincolnshire Police continues to receive from so many places. We have pulled together across our communities and partner agencies and faced challenges with tremendous understanding and a motivation to get things done.

I was particularly struck by the way in which individuals and the whole county helped each other during the occasions of severe weather: from extremes of snow, ice and rain, through to heat and drought!

Many of our major towns suffered from the blight of drug misuse and the associated violence and antisocial behaviour. While we had some major successes in arresting drug suppliers, including intercepting several kilos of Spice (a drug that has a hugely debilitating effect), I am very clear that this is a problem that will require sustained work from the police and other agencies.

I am pleased to look back on our approach to rural crime, in particular, the illegal practices of hare coursing and poaching. With limited resources, the Operation Galileo team have achieved a huge amount in catching criminals, forfeiting dogs and vehicles and seizing cash. Building confidence back in our rural communities has begun and I know is welcomed.

Spirit of Christmas Present…

And the good work continues. The national approach to diverting people from radicalisation, called Prevent, has excellent support in Lincolnshire, particularly from Lincoln City Football Club – who themselves continue to go from success to success.

I was delighted that the weather was kinder this year for the Lincoln Christmas Market and the four days passed with praise for, and from, all partners. It was one of many Christmas events across the county that have given people the opportunity to enjoy this time of year and our wonderful area, while also helping to boost the local economy.

Unfortunately, tragedy has never been too far away. There are still far too many injuries on our roads and recent collisions involving vehicles and pedestrians have resulted in a terrible loss of life and all of the pain that brings. I hope that people take extra care when using our roads when conditions are difficult but everyone should always be careful and show respect for other road users.

Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come…

Two big issues remain unresolved and each will affect policing in Lincolnshire in important ways.

The government continue to negotiate with Europe on the terms of the UK’s exit and there is much ongoing debate in Westminster and across the country. With a large number of communities in Lincolnshire from other parts of Europe, I know that the next few months will be of particular concern. We will be working with central government and local authorities to ensure, as far as possible, that communities are kept informed of the implications of decisions on Europe.

In addition, our funding picture has yet to be finalised. It may seem strange to many of the businesses in Lincolnshire but I don’t know my budget for the next financial year (19-20) and we are only three months away. It does make planning for services quite difficult. My predecessors and I have often spoken about the underfunding that Lincolnshire Police has suffered from over a number of years, largely due to an out-dated way in which the Home Office central grant is distributed, which amounts to half of all of my funding.

Recent announcements on police funding have been welcome but they amount to less than a standstill budget for me and so I am forced to continue to look at cuts to service, although they are thankfully less than I was worried I might have to make.

These two issues are dominating the immediate future. Meanwhile, I remain committed to pursing our goals of providing the best possible quality of service to our communities with the resources I have, and supporting the wellbeing of staff in Lincolnshire Police.

I frequently talk about policing as a family and it feels particularly relevant at this time of year. In amongst all the challenges we face as an organisation, I am determined we act like a family and care for each other, support each other and be kind to each other. Some small acts of compassion can have a huge impact.