FIGHTING crime while his force loses almost 20 per cent of its budget is the task facing new Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Neil Rhodes.
Ch Con Rhodes visited Grantham Police Station this week and spoke to the Journal about losing £20 million from a budget of £120 million - leading to the loss of 100 police officers by the end of 2012.
Lincolnshire Police is already the worst funded police force in the country both in budget and cost per head of the population.
Ch Con Rhodes said: “It’s extremely painful absorbing cuts of 20 per cent and it’s even tougher when we are already providing policing at the lowest cost per head in the country.
“But we are doing our level best to meet that challenge while still sustaining the quality of service the public deserves.”
When asked about morale within Lincolnshire Police Ch Con Rhodes said every officer he has met so far has been “chipper and up for it”. However, he did concede that controversial Government proposals which will see many officers facing considerable cuts to their earnings is weighing on officers’ minds.
He added: “Everyone is working very, very hard and I take my hat off to the people on the frontline who keep turning out results in pretty tough circumstances.
“I think it’s commendable at the moment because a lot of them feel pretty under-valued by some of the national conversations around pay.
“What they need to know is that we absolutely value the service they provide on the streets of Lincolnshire.”
Ch Con Rhodes gave the Journal his “absolute assurance” private security companies such as G4S will never take over front-line functions provided by police constables and community support officers.
A more visible presence on the streets is also a priority.
Ch Con Rhodes said: “Each of our officers should be seen out on patrol and that includes foot patrol. Constables and PCSOs and everyone should know their neighbourhood officer by name.
“People should feel like they can approach and speak to their local officers and I apply that to myself as well.”
He added: “We are committed to driving down crime and antisocial behaviour even further and making sure the streets are a safe place to walk at any time of the day or night.”