Candidates for Lincolnshire police and crime commissioner react to policing levels
The five contenders fighting to be the figurehead of our police force have reacted to facts which lay bare the number of officers serving our area.
We have revealed there are 66 officers serving South Holland – and that Lincolnshire Police has the lowest amount of officers per 100,000 people in England and Wales.
Current county police and crime commissioner Marc Jones has defended his record over the last five years and says he is securing an increase in police numbers.
He’s asking voters to give him a chance to continue the ‘transformation and modernisation’ of the force, pointing to investment in drones and 4x4s and quick emergency response times.
Mr Jones, the Conservative candidate, said: “Having taken the force from the brink in 2016, I have overseen a transformation in the way Lincolnshire Police supports our communities, especially in rural areas, and I have a credible and deliverable plan to go even further.
“The next few years are critical to building on this, and preventing and tackling crime are clearly key to those plans.
“With officer numbers on the rise we can look forward to seeing more of them in our community but visibility is only part of the story.”
Peter Escreet, candidate for the Reform Party, says the number of officers has visibly dropped in the past 20 years.
He said: “It’s all very worrying – especially the contrast with what I remember growing up here – you don’t see police any more.
“The police and crime commissioner should be screaming and shouting about these figures.”
He said it wasn’t necessarily about money but a case of fairness, with the county sitting bottom of the table in terms of officers.
He added: “My question is why aren’t we getting our fair share of funding and police?”
Labour and Co-operative Party contender Rosanne Kirk said: “People don’t feel safe – they don’t feel like reporting crimes and that’s horrendous. It’s very worrying that people feel like that but this is the feedback I am getting.”
She blames the ‘false economy’ of cuts to public services – saying the police pick up the pieces when things such as youth services are ditched: “Lincolnshire has been left behind – we have got some very deprived areas.
“Our police officers work hard but they need the support and the resources behind them.”
Liberal Democrat contender Ross Pepper also believes the ‘root causes’ of crime in the county need to be tackled.
He said: “It’s not just a policing issue – it’s an issue for the whole of the public – we need to make sure we have youth services, good education and that there’s a plan to tackle drugs.
“If you can drive down crime rates by tackling the root cause then you will still need more officers, but not as many.”
He said he feels sorry for our officers, adding: “They are under enormous pressure. I can’t put myself in their shoes to think how much stress they must be under.”
Several candidates raised the fact that the sheer size of the county makes it trickier to police – with officers left with a large geographical area to try to cover.
David Williams, standing for Lincolnshire Independents, raised this and said he’s not satisfied with the announced police recruitment.
He said: “We are the lowest funded force in the country – it’s always been an issue.”
“We are only getting a proportionate share of the uplift in police officers – that means we are still at the end of the queue in terms of the proportion of officers we get.”
He called for ‘dynamic and innovative’ solutions and feels that it’s not possible to hang onto the hope that Lincolnshire will suddenly just get more officers.
He added: “There have to be measures that somehow mitigate the problems associated with a lack of police coverage.”