Saturday marks six months since Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Coun Marc Jones, took office after his election victory on Thursday, May 5.
Faced with a potential gap in police funding of up to £6million, the salary of nearly 140 police constables and Lincolnshire’s entire cohort of 149 PCSOs, over the next two years, Coun Jones faces an unenviable task to make ends meet.
However, the former executive member in charge of finance and property at Lincolnshire County Council came fully prepared for the challenges, as well as the opportunities, open to the county’s second PCC.
Coun Jones said: “It’s very brave to be the first person in anything and back in November 2012 (when Alan Hardwick was elected as Lincolnshire’s first PCC), did anyone have a clear idea of what the role involved?
“The second chapter of PCCs had the benefit of having done some advanced planning, based on experiences of the first group.
“When I became Commissioner, I assessed carefully the needs in my office based on the fact that I have a legal duty to engage with the public and get their views.”
Coun Jones’ commitment to the community was shown within weeks of taking office during a murder investigation in Boston where the body of Marina Erte (33) was found in a house on Friday, May 20.
Just four months after national newspapers branded Boston as “the murder capital of Britain”, based on Home Office figures which showed the town had recorded 15 homocides for every 100,000 people living there, the Commissioner said: “My role is to work with Lincolnshire Police to support the needs of residents in Boston and across Lincolnshire.”
Also in May, Coun Jones found himself having to be briefed on a Lincolnshire Police anti-corruption investigation into an allegation that Force Control Room staff had been calling 999 during “quiet times” in order to boost performance figures.
Two people were sacked, two more resigned and one person was exonerated, all five having been employed by public sector contractor G4S.
When I became Commissioner, I assessed carefully the needs in my office based on the fact that I have a legal duty to engage with the public and get their viewsLincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Coun Marc Jones
At the time when the allegations were first uncovered, Coun Jones said: “I am assured that at no time has there been any risk to any members of the public and the Force Control Room continues to operate normally.”
Coun Jones first put his stamp on how he would carry out the PCC role came in June with the appointment of Deputy PCC Coun Stuart Tweedale, Lincolnshire County Council member for Ruskington and Cranwell.
The appointment was wrongly seen as a snub to the 12-member Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel whose members viewed Coun Tweedale as unsuitable for the role.
Coun Jones said: “Stuart will be a vital and visible part of my proactive crime prevention agenda, overseeing rural issues and leading on community engagement work to ensure that people of all ages, from across the whole county, have an input into the type of policing they received.”
With Coun Tweedale in place, the Commissioner was free to pursue a vigorous and even punishing agenda of “public engagement events” at six Lincolnshire sites, including Spalding, Grantham, Skegness, Alford and Sleaford.
Other achievements have included a £15 million Blue Light Collaboration Project with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Lincolnshire County Council.
Coun Jones said: “We’ve rolled out body-worn video and mobile data devices to better protect officers and the public, as well as keeping police officers out on the streets for longer where they want to be.
“There’s also been a £1 million investment, this year alone, into new police vehicles to provide our force with the right tools for the job.
“Lincolnshire Police has joined the National Rural Crime Network, with Stuart sitting on its National Executive, and we have set up a new Youth People’s Advisory Group which we plan to follow by setting up a Community Commission to drive forward with changes in the way we engage with the public.
“We have also pledged to tackle rural crime with the signing of a new Rural Crime Concordat, a clear signal to would-be criminals of the combined will and resources of Lincolnshire Police, alongside Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, to protect our rural communities and tackle issues that plague our beautiful countryside.”