Local Bobby ‘endangered species’

Theresa May.
Theresa May.

Fears have been expressed neighbourhood policing teams are becoming an ‘endangered species’ – and in Spalding that could mean we are left with 
only PCSOs performing this role.

The comments were made at the Police Federation of England and Wales’ 2015 annual conference.

Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes. Photo: Phil Crow EMN-150319-154540001

Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes. Photo: Phil Crow EMN-150319-154540001

During his opening statement on Wednesday chairman Steve White said the local policeman is now becoming an ‘endangered species’.

He said: “We are down to the bone and having to decide – neighbourhood policing or 999 calls?

“Neighbourhood policing is the foundation of local confidence, trust and reassurance in communities that the police are there, that we will be there when needed, policing with their consent.

“And now neighbourhood policing is just one of the endangered species in the new, streamlined, barren policing landscape.”

However, Home Secretary Theresa May told the federation to ‘stop crying wolf’ and accused them of ‘scaremongering’.

But a federation spokesman told The Spalding Guardian they fear that, following an ongoing review, Lincolnshire Police will look to cut the numbers of sergeants supervising neighbourhood teams.

They said they were concerned that constables could be missing the proper supervision and would in turn end up supervising PCSOs.

Jon Hassall, the federation chairman for Lincolnshire, said: “The worst fear is we will completely pull out of neighbourhoods and leave them to PCSOs.”

The federation pointed to a force re-organisation four years ago which reduced the numbers of officers in neighbourhood teams, the number of beat (neighbourhood) officers and the number of beats.

The figures show that the number of beat officers in Lincolnshire has declined since a ‘peak’ year in March 2010, when it stood at 1,206.

Since then it has dropped by 115 (9.54 per cent) to 1,091 officers in March 2014.

The federation also pointed to Lincolnshire Chief Constable Neil Rhodes’ warning of going bankrupt in a letter to the Home Secretary in December as further evidence of the difficulty the force faces.

A joint statement from Chief Constable Rhodes and Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said: “The funding situation in Lincolnshire is distinct from the rest of the country.

“We clearly set this out in a letter to the Home Secretary in December. We were encouraged by the ensuing visit from Policing Minister Mike Penning. We look forward to continuing this open dialogue.”

Responding to Mr White, Ms May said: “I have to tell you that this kind of scaremongering does nobody any good – it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t serve the officers you represent, and it doesn’t serve the public.”

She pointed to several previous years when the PFEW had warned against cuts to police forces. She later added: “The truth is that crime fell in each of those years, it’s fallen further since – and our country is safer than it has ever been.

“So please – for your own sake and for the thousands of police officers who work so hard every day – this crying wolf has to stop.”

She also said more savings would have to be made in police budgets, saying reform ‘needs to go much deeper’.

Pointing to the Independent Crime Survey, she added crime had fallen by as much as 25 per cent in England and Wales, despite cuts which had already been made.