Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick has pledged there will be no cuts in frontline jobs or services – provided the Government adopts a new funding formula.
Mr Hardwick revealed he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Government will end what he called “years of discrimination” against the Lincolnshire force by introducing a fairer funding deal.
He said the force was this week finalising an official reply to the Government’s latest proposals.
Mr Hardwick did not reveal any details but said the proposals were much fairer and would hopefully not lead to any additional reductions in Lincolnshire’s budget.
He added the formula would protect jobs and, in turn, mean the police could continue to provide a full range of frontline services.
However, he did sound a note of caution about PCSOs who, he pointed out, were funded with help from Lincolnshire County Council.
Mr Hardwick said: “There is absolutely no doubt that when it comes to funding, this force has been discriminated against for a long time.
“We have been consistently praised by the highest authority in the land. All our officers do an absolutely first-class job but it has become increasingly difficult. Essentially, we have been penalised because we are one of the best forces in the country.”
Mr Hardwick said it appeared the Government was ready to “listen and act” to Lincolnshire’s appeals for a fairer deal. He added: “If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I was pessimistic. Now, I am now cautiously optimistic.”
Mr Hardwick said he hoped the force might even receive additional funding.
Regarding PSCOs, Mr Hardwick said much depended on the level of contribution the county council could continue to make.
He added: “Like all public bodies, they are under increasing pressure to make cuts and I fully understand that. It would be unfair of me to make any promises (regarding PCSOs) until we know exactly what the situation is.”
Lincolnshire is one of the largest counties in the country but has a relatively small population – factors on which the Government’s funding formula is based.
Mr Hardwick added: “No other force – especially a rural force – has had to suffer the same cuts we have.
“We have been saying for a long time that the current system is not fair and people are starting to understand that.”
The cash-strapped force was expected to axe hundreds of jobs – including frontline officers – because of ongoing reductions in funding.
It costs around £113 million a year to run Lincolnshire Police with the Government supplying around half that in grants. The force was expecting a grant of £62.2 million for 2015-16 but received £59.2 million.
Earlier this year, chief constable Neil Rhodes warned the future of the force was in doubt after claiming ongoing cuts would lead to a predicted £10.4 million shortfall in 2018.
He said the force would have to axe a fifth of frontline officers and warned the reductions meant there would be serious implications for security and public safety.