I have always been a supporter of John Hayes. He has always worked hard for his local community and the recent article about his wanting to tackle anti-social behaviour in Spalding is – for me – yet again an indication of his commitment to his local community.
I am, however, dismayed and even exasperated to see that at the top of his Five-Point Plan is the suggestion that the police are not doing enough.
As a Spalding resident myself, I share Mr Hayes views about anti-social behaviour. I also hate litter. This is a beautiful part of the country and I want to keep it that way.
However, before we yet again start blaming the police for this, let’s look at some facts.
Lincolnshire has historically been one of the lowest funded police forces in the country. Partly testament to the fact that it is one of the safest.
It is, also, however one of the fastest growing in terms of population. The population of South Holland furthermore has grown at an enormous rate over the past ten years. It was recently announced that Boston is the fastest growing town in the country – fuelled partly by the massive influx of migrant workers since 2006.
This increase in population has not been addressed in police funding, nor police officer numbers. This has been repeatedly acknowledged and a number of attempts made to address it.
The former Chief Constable Richard Crompton tried and asked for further funding from the government. He was denied. He then asked for an increase in the amount given to Police from the Council Tax. He was denied this also.
To compound this even further, the government (John Hayes’ own Conservative Government) has told Lincolnshire Police that they have to cut their budget (which had already been acknowledged as not enough) by 20 per cent over four years.
It is matter of public record (as is all of the above) that the present Chief Constable Neil Rhodes has suggested that despite his efforts to make savings elsewhere this means a reduction further in police officers. Some inevitably from South Holland.
The independent Police inspectorate HMIC recently announced that it feared that Lincolnshire Police was one of a number of forces it felt would struggle to cope with these further cutbacks.
The effects are already being felt – and there are more to come. The thin blue line is becoming thinner – while conversely the population is increasing. (You do the maths).
South Holland – including Spalding – has a small finite number of police officers. They cover the area from Sutton Bridge as far as Crowland and they deal with everything and anything. From a loose cow on the road to a fatal road collision.
How can you expect a police officer to be zero tolerant on people getting drunk in Spalding town centre, while he/she is in Sutton St Edmund taking the latest complaint from somebody who has been called a name on Facebook ( it happens!) or taking a complaint from yet another person who has sent £5,000 to an unknown person in Germany hoping to receive a cheque for £1million (again genuine example).
Quite frankly you can’t!
The police have asked for extra laws and powers to do the job. It was they (not SHDC) that spearheaded and pushed through the DPPO despite, it has to be said, local pressure against it from some local councillors. It was also the police that fought for years to get town centre CCTV – again despite local opposition.
It should also be pointed out that there is not a town centre drinking ban. A DPPO can only be enforced where drinking is accompanied by anti-social behaviour or it is suspected that it may be.
What we should be asking – and John Hayes does address this – is this:
l Who decided to allow yet another licensed premises to open in Spalding?
l Who thought it a good idea to allow Savers a liquor licence?
l Who though it a good idea to allow these shops to sell liquor 24/7?
l Who gave planning permission for yet another town centre East European mini-market?
l Who makes the law? (including bye-laws banning drinking in town centres?)
l Who decides on sentences given to people who break the law?
It is not the police. It is the government – both national and local.
Gary Taylor says: “As the ward member for the area, I do walk Abbey Path two or three times a week.”
Really? If so, why is there a problem?
He is fortunate that he has the time to do that. I am sure the police would love the luxury of such time.
What is he and his colleagues doing about it? Are they not public servants also?
My plea to your readers is this: Before you begin moaning that your local police force is not doing enough think about the above and consider this analogy: Who is more responsible for the fire that burns in the forest?
Is it the men and women with the limited supply of buckets and water desperately trying to put it out or is it the people with the box of matches that lit the fire, keep re-igniting the fire yet stand by, watching it burn, while moaning that the bucket carriers aren’t doing enough?
Therein lies the answer!
The police will – as always – continue to fight the fire, but they cannot and should not have to carry the burden alone!