Force has ‘limited room for manoeuvre’ to make more cuts

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter

Lincolnshire Police will struggle to cope with more cuts, according to the body that inspects the nation’s police forces.

In a report published last week, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), said the county will be left with a “very thin blue line” by 2015, with 106 fewer police officers in the county already.

The report looks at how the force is coping with cuts imposed since the Government’s spending review in 2010.

It says our force has “responded very well” but is a small force that has already gone through significant change and has “extremely limited room for manoeuvre” to save more money.

West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire are the other four forces predicted to struggle to be able to make more cuts.

It found:

l the force needed to save £19.8 million between March 2011 and March 2015. It has so far planned cuts of £18.3 million but still has £1.5 million to find

l the force plans to close the gap using reserves – something HMIC says is a concern

l the savings needed are 16 per cent of the overall budget – which is “broadly in line” with others but tough for Lincolnshire because it was already one of the worst funded

l the force has 106 fewer officers – nine per cent below that of March 2010

l the report states: “By March 2015 it is planned there will be 1,100 police officers keeping the people of Lincolnshire safe. This is a very thin ‘blue line’.”

l by 2015 there will be 657 fewer police staff in total – many of those transferring to G4S

l PCSO numbers will stay the same and volunteers will increase to 1,000 by April 2016

The report also looks at how the cuts have impacted on the public.

It says crime (excluding fraud) fell by 16 per cent – well above the national average. Victim satisfaction is also said to be high at 83.9 per cent.

HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Eastern Region, Zoë Billingham, said: “HMIC has concerns about the ability of the force to maintain its current level of service to the communities of Lincolnshire when faced with further significant budget reductions from 2015/16 onwards.

“HMIC will continue to monitor the force for the remainder of the spending review period.”

The full report can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk