The COVID-19 pandemic and various lockdowns have been a major challenge for our country – but it has also shone a light on the amazing bravery and commitment of our front line services.

While our health staff have received and deserve enormous credit for their brave work fighting the disease, our police force has also been tireless in its determination to keep our communities safe.

This year, on top of the announcement of a record 120 officers being recruited, I further pledged investment in the technology designed to make our road network a hostile place for criminals and enhance the ability to both apprehend offenders and successfully put them behind bars.

The latest automatic number plate recognition hardware, enhanced dog and drone units and the introduction of new pursuit vehicles on top of the increased officer numbers have only been made possible by local residents’ support through council tax. The proportion paid from your annual bill to support local policing is approximately 15% of the total you pay and has directly affected the ability of Lincolnshire Police prevent and tackle crime in your community.

During lockdown this investment has come into its own – enabling officers to track, trace and hunt down criminals of all kinds but with a special focus on reducing violence and tackling drug traffickers and dealers as they attempt to bring illegal substances into our county and on to our streets.

Next year will see the introduction of the UK’s most advanced command and control system which will enable frontline officers to be deployed quicker than ever, with the right equipment.

In an age when officers face rising and increasingly complex demands and risks, sending not just an officer but the best equipped and trained officer for any given circumstance will become increasingly vital.
The key is to make the best decisions possible in the control room so officers can get to the right place, at the right time, armed with the information they need to effectively handle the call.
Clearly the less time officers are waiting for information from the control room the more time they can spend responding to incidents and as much time as possible in the field reassuring communities, preventing and fighting crime.”

In addition, I have been pleased to recruit a new Chief Constable, Chris Haward, who has replaced the now retired Bill Skelly. I am confident that his skill and passion will raise further the fight against crime across Lincolnshire.

The new Chief has an enviable reputation for running crime fighting operations and I am confident the force will start the New Year with renewed vigour.

Chris has moved from his former role as head of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) – where he has led on major crime investigations including murder and kidnap, tackling serious and organised crime, covert policing and counter terrorism.

In his time at EMSOU – the largest and arguably most successful police collaboration in the UK – the unit has seen an increase in operations completed, arrests made and convictions secured.

He has a fantastic track record of fighting and preventing crime and coupled with the investments made in new front line staff, technology and equipment over the last few years I am confident we are making our county a hostile place for criminals.

So while Covid has been a challenge physically, mentally and financially for many, the force and I will continue to do everything in our power to keep our residents and communities safe.

The pandemic will certainly not dim that determination.

Marc Jones is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire

The man who invented the taser gun, Jack Cover, used to tell his wife the device had saved 100,000 lives.

There are no records to show whether the late Jack Cover was right – but it’s hard to argue with his logic.

Jack created the taser as a response to a rash of plane hijackings in the 1960s – when a stray bullet from an air marshal could bring down the entire plane.

Then working on the Apollo moon landings the inventor wanted to create a gadget that would immobilise attackers without endangering passengers.

In short the taser was designed to save lives.

And nearly 50 years later the Chicago-born scientist’s work is still savings lives right here in Lincolnshire.

This week Lincolnshire Police announced it was to train over half of response officers to use and carry taser – the highest proportion of any force in England.

It’s a move I wholeheartedly support. I have seen for myself how even the threat of a taser can diffuse a potentially dangerous situation.

A man confronting an officer with a sword and a resident threatening people with a syringe of blood are just two of the life-threatening situations defused by police “red-dotting” suspects.

“Red-dotting” is the process of pointing the device at a person and a red light is projected on to them which, alongside robust warnings, is often enough to give pause for thought and lead to a de-escalation of tensions very quickly.

I believe it is my duty to support the Chief Constable in ensuring our officers are supplied with, and trained to use, whatever non-lethal equipment is necessary to keep them safe from harm and protect the public.

According to Home Office statistics there are around 250 assaults on police officers in Lincolnshire within a year. That’s five a week. Nearly a third of those assaults result in injuries.

That means that, quite literally, our police officers risk their own safety on a daily basis in order to safeguard the public.

It is absolutely crucial that we do everything possible to protect them so they can protect you.

In Lincolnshire that presents particular challenges. Geographically, Lincolnshire is a huge county and we are also the lowest funded force in the whole of the country. This means that a single crew is sent in the vast majority of cases.

The taser gives officers an added sense of security when back up can take some time to arrive. Taser is actually only fired about once a month in Lincolnshire and despite the number of officers carrying it going up, year on year the firing of it has reduced.

The fact that it is visible is often all that is needed.

Officers have to go through very thorough annual training processes and have to follow strict guidelines about their use. These are reviewed regularly as are the detailed records of each time taser is drawn from its holster to ensure it is being used appropriately.

Tasers are not the only technology we are employing in the fight to keep officers safe and effective while patrolling our streets.

All our officers are now fitted with body cameras which can provide vital evidence along with mobile devices to record information and get it back to the station without all the paperwork of days gone by.

I know there is more to do to reduce red tape and paperwork to keep officers out on patrol longer and we are working on that too. They even carry a palm sized printer for tickets to save writing them out.

My current budget consultation is also exploring the public’s views on providing the latest mobile equipment to keep front line personnel updated, safe and able to protect the public better.

I will continue to seek new and innovative ways to protect our officers and our communities from crime and will do everything possible to support our front-line team members as they take to the streets each day.

Marc Jones is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire

Winston Churchill once said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

That attitude is at the forefront of my mind as I face the challenges the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner presents; because there is no doubt the role has its difficulties. We face some tough financial issues and challenges with the budget for policing in the county.

It is also true that those difficulties provide opportunities and it is because of those opportunities that I am hugely excited about the next few months.

We will soon be appointing a new Chief Constable who will bring fresh ideas, a new perspective and, I’m confident, great skills to the role – helping to create a Lincolnshire Police ready and committed to delivering outstanding service to the public for years to come.

The new chief will take charge of a force in good shape; a force recognised for its efficiency and its will to work with other forces and organisations to improve services for all.

They will join a force planning to recruit hundreds of new Officers, PCSOs and take in trained transferring officers too.

And while I know setting our next budget will be no easy task I am also confident that the process brings with it exciting opportunities to seek new ways of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our service.

New technology allowing officers to spend more time in the community and less at a desk, new types of vehicles giving our force the ability to respond quickly and reach all corners of the county in all weathers are just two of the options being examined.

We are also working with colleagues from other emergency services on a “blue light collaboration” project looking at ways of sharing skills and resources so we can work together in responding to the needs of the community.

And what I am really positive about is that we are opening up the discussion to the people we serve.

I have launched a consultation to give the residents of Lincolnshire the chance to shape those decisions and already the response has been incredible. In less than a week around 1,000 people have responded, giving their views about the priorities we should be focused on.

More than 97% of the respondents, so far, have backed the move for emergency service closer working and 91% support additional funding for the force, but I want more people to respond to the survey.

The role of the PCC is to be a voice of the people when setting the agenda for policing and I want my voice to be informed by the people who I represent.

My questionnaire is your opportunity to do just that. There are only five questions; it will take just a few minutes, but will play a crucial role in the future of your community; and before anyone asks, yes I will genuinely take account of your views and, yes there is an email address at the end to send in your comments in your own words.

You can even see in simple coloured graphs how your views stack up against everyone who has taken part so far. A truly open and transparent survey that really will inform your services into the future.

With your support, I am hugely optimistic that we can provide a police force that meets the needs of the people it serves and does so in the most efficient way possible.

The survey can be accessed here.

Marc Jones is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire

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