The Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police says his force could go out of business in the next few years in the face of overwhelming Government cuts.
Neil Rhodes has written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, saying that the cuts to his service could mean no bobbies on the beat and just a few PCSOs with any presence on the streets. Mr Rhodes says response times to emergency calls will increase and the range of offences where a meaningful investigation will be possible will be reduced.
Mr Rhodes adds that with lower police numbers and longer distances for officers to travel, their safety will be compromised more frequently. He says: “Public confidence in policing and those charged with providing it will be severely eroded.”
In his letter to Mrs May, Mr Rhodes says: “A smaller, forward looking and innovative force that has embraced change, Lincolnshire Police in 2016/17 will be, on the basis of current financial projections, on the edge of viability. In the following year it will be unsustainable. Having balanced our books in probably the most challenging position in the country, we firmly believe that we are an exemplar of good practice and efficiency - graded ‘Outstanding’ by HMIC for the provision of affordable policing - yet find our very future threatened by an anomalous funding formula and the blunt instrument of straight percentage cuts.”
He added: “We have worked hard over the past year in particular to shape and inform Government thinking, hosting visits from the previous Police Minister and groups of senior civil servants. We participate in a number of government-led groups looking at these issues, however, all are working to produce information for Summer 2015 and we must take decisions now if we are to produce balanced budgets. Our principal means of reducing budgets is now almost solely by reducing officer numbers.
“There are two key problems with this approach to reducing costs. Firstly, to cut officer numbers by the amount needed would mean service degradation to a level that would be unacceptable to our communities and compromise both public safety and officer safety. Secondly, the scale of reduction required far outstrips our ability to cut numbers through normal means.”