Police watchdog fears Lincolnshire may lose more frontline officers

Lincolnshire Police.
Lincolnshire Police.

Lincolnshire Police may have to cut frontline numbers to meet further savings targets, according to a watchdog’s report.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has been tracking forces’ responses to budget cuts since 2011.

This week it revealed the results of that work, which found that although Lincolnshire’s police were coping well so far, further cuts could affect frontline officers.

The report said the force had already made significant cuts and had few options left.

It added: “Having taken more decisive action than most forces in order to close its funding gap, there are few places left for the force to turn. It will become increasingly difficult for it to continue to protect its frontline.

“In addition to these challenges, there is a level of uncertainty and instability within the force. The decision by the police and crime commissioner to suspend the temporary chief constable was unsettling for the workforce.

“Since HMIC’s on-site inspection, key members of the top team have moved to other forces, with a consequent loss of expertise and leadership capability.

“It is important that Lincolnshire Police has a strong and stable leadership team that can continue to engage and lead staff with confidence through what will be challenging times ahead. Given the degree of challenge the force faces, it is imperative that the police and crime commissioner and the force deliver their shared vision for the next phase of change.”

Lincolnshire has been trying to save £19.8m, or 16 per cent of its budget, over the four years of the Government’s spending review between March 2011 and March 2015.

It has cut £18.3m from its budget but still has to find £1.5m of further savings.

Despite the cuts, recorded crime excluding fraud has fallen by 16 per cent in the county since March 2011.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said: “This report underlines once again that the Government’s funding formula for policing is not equitable. It positively discriminates against Lincolnshire.

“It cannot be right that not only does spending on policing vary so widely across the country, but also that in some areas such as Lincolnshire, local taxpayers shoulder a much greater burden through the council tax for the cost of policing.

“If everyone spent the same as we do in Lincolnshire, the police service in England would cost around £1bn less.”

The watchdog found that Leicestershire Police still needed to save £6.2m before March 2015.

But it was encouraged by the direction taken by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader, who “is now developing a more sustainable approach to making savings.”