Pledge on £2.5m overhaul of police system at Crowland crime meeting

Crowland county councillor Nigel Pepper, Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones with Coun Cathie Elphee, Chairman of Crowland Parish Council, Deputy Commissioner Stuart Tweedale and Sergeant Mike Alford at Crowland RBL Hall. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG030817-207TW.
  • Limited resources make crime solving a ‘cat and mouse game’

A £2.5million overhaul of the way reports of crime are dealt with has been announced by Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Marc Jones.

Commitments on a range of issues, including rural crime, speeding in Cowbit, the A16/B1166 junction in Crowland and the return of Neighbourhood Policing Panels were all made during a public meeting in Crowland on Thursday night.

The biggest challenge we have in Lincolnshire is that our command and control structure is old so we’re going to replace it

Marc Jones, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Mr Jones, Deputy PCC Stuart Tweedale and Sergeant (Sgt) Mike Alford, of the South Holland Neighbourhood Policing Team, were the guests of Crowland county councillor Nigel Pepper at the town’s Royal British Legion Hall.

About 55 people, including representatives from Cowbit, Crowland, Deeping St Nicholas and The Moultons Parish Council, questioned the Commissioner and Sgt Alford on issues of crime, anti-social behaviour and road safety.

Mr Jones said: “It was an absolute pleasure to spend the whole day in Crowland where I met district and parish councillors at a meeting hosted by Coun Nigel Pepper.

“I was taken to meet an array of business owners in the main streets of Crowland and I checked out the damage caused in the recent ATM raid at the Co-op.

“Also, I was given a guided tour of the town’s incredible abbey and then attended the evening meeting which really helped towards my understanding of local issues.”

Answering a question about problems with the non-emergency 101 number, Mr Jones said: “There’s a national issue in that the amount of calls have gone up so much that no one can really cope with it.

“The biggest challenge we have in Lincolnshire is that our command and control structure is old, so we’re going to replace it at a cost of about £2.5million which will enable us to have contact from the public in new and different ways.”

Mr Jones renewed his commitment to rural community safety and “people being protected in their homes within isolated locations”, as well as thefts of oil, farm machinery, wildlife and heritage crime against animals and churches.

“Hare coursing is the pastime of bad people, generally, and we need to do what we can to stop it,” Mr Jones said.

“The Chief Constable has made it a commitment and said ‘This is a priority and we will tackle it’, but we’ve got to get much smarter at knowing where the key players are and how to take them out.”

Mr Jones also announced plans for a Road Safety Summit in November in response to concerns about speeding on the A1073 Barrier Bank in Cowbit.

He said: “I’m not happy with the level of road safety we have in Lincolnshire and we want to make things as safe as we can.”

The lack of policing resources, both in terms of manpower and money, dominated talks about tackling disorder in Crowland and speeding in Cowbit.

In response to a question about continuing anti-social behaviour in Crowland town centre, Sgt Mike Alford said: “There are issues in the town and we’ve addressed that by having specific patrols and sending letters to parents.

“We do what we can but a lot of the problem comes from a lack of evidence and quite often there are reports that a group of youths have been throwing stones, but we can’t prove they are ones causing the problems.”

Limited police officer numbers were also a factor in the question of reintroducing Neighbourhood Policing Panels and the Operation Galileo campaign against hare coursing.

Sgt Alford said: “It’s very difficult to cover South Holland as we want and when we get 20 to 30 calls around hair coursing, we’re playing a game of cat and mouse when it comes to rural crime issues.”

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