Thin blue line is in danger of breaking
Column by Coun Ray Wootten, vice chairman of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel
I believe that the thin blue line is in danger of breaking after reading the statement made by Lincolnshire Police, as it warned that it could be forced to make
significant cuts to police officer numbers, if it does not receive additional funding next year.
Already the numbers of regular police officers are low, at around the 1,100 mark, and PCSO numbers are down from 250 five years ago to 120, with further cuts possible. Neighbourhood Policing Teams in Grantham have been decimated over the years. Rural Grantham North which covers Barkston, Ancaster and surrounding villages to Claypole is down to one PCSO. Ask yourself this question, when did you last see a police officer on foot patrol?
The news that extra powers are to be given to PCSOs is welcome but their services need retaining.
At last week’s meeting of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel I put the question of funding to the Police Commissioner’s Chief Executive, in the absence of the Commissioner.
Funding from central government for the Police service in England and Wales is £8.6 billion and in March this year funding was set to increase by £460 million. Lincolnshire’s budget for 2018/19 is £113.9 million, one of the lowest in the country. However, these budgets are likely to face real terms reductions due to inflation. Police Officer numbers nationally are at levels not seen since the 1970s.
With crime rising across the country, prosecutions falling and incidents being closed with no suspect identified, the police service needs a long-term strategy for the future, otherwise the service may be stretched beyond recognition.