County leaders in united call for help to stop Lincolnshire Police cuts
Leading political and religious figures are joining forces to try and stave off drastic cuts facing Lincolnshire Police.
South Holland and the Deepings MP, John Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and the Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Revd Christopher Lowson, have all backed calls for the Government to give more cash to the county’s force.
Chief Constable Bill Skelly warned that Lincolnshire Police “has reached a point of crisis in terms of the type of service we can deliver” after a report revealed that nearly ten per cent of police posts could disappear over the next three years.
A looming £16.8million worth of savings to be made between 2019 and 2022 may result in up to 60 fewer police officers and 55 PCSOs on the streets, along with 30 less police staff members and a cutback in services provided by multi-sector services company G4S.
Mr Skelly said: "We're feeling disappointed that we've come to this, although I've always known that if the way police funding is distributed didn't change then people will find us to be a less responsive, more difficult to contact service."
Jon Hassall, chairman of the Lincolnshire Police Federation, said: "The potential reduction in police officer numbers will lead to some really difficult decisions about where they will be placed and what functions they undertake.
"It's almost untenable what may have to be done if we don't get more finance, but all we get from the Government is the message that our situation is 'well-understood and thought out'.
"We'll collaborate with other forces to provide a service of policing that we'd have otherwise lost.
"But if you keep cutting meat from the bone, you'll have no meat left and we're at the bone now."
Meanwhile, Mr Jones' response to the report was in keeping with his statement at a public meeting in Crowland last month when he revealed that Lincolnshire Police had a "£3.5million structural hole in our budget and only the Government can fill it."
In his response to the Force Management Statement, published on Tuesday, said: "In January 2017, I announced that I was using £4million from reserves to prop up the budget.
"In the current financial year, I committed £5.3million from reserves in order to maintain service levels and, at the time, said that we face some tough challenges in the years ahead.
"In essence, the force's budget has been 'propped up' with millions of pounds from reserves, on top of the council tax and government grant.
"That is no longer possible."
Also on Tuesday, the Bishop of Lincoln said: "I am willing to be a voice to ensure that, where possible, Lincolnshire and its police officers get a fair deal and we do not lose further police from our communities.
"From a young age, I was taught that if I was in difficulty, I could always approach a police officer.
"But less money and less services means there may be no one to approach."
Mr Hayes, who also offered to talk to the Government on behalf of Mr Skelly and the Commissioner, said: "I've been highlighting the challenges facing Lincolnshire Police for many months now and I brought it to a head through a meeting I called with the Policing Minister Nick Hurd earlier this year, along with other MPs.
"The case made to Mr Hurd is the case now set out in this report that unlike many other police forces, Lincolnshire Police can't call on vast reserves to support its Police Grant from the Government.and the money it receives locally through the council tax.
"As well as looking at the funding formula, which is the root cause of why the force in Lincolnshire fares so poorly action in respect to the police budgets elsewhere in England and Wales, the Government should also consider the short-term challenges faced by Lincolnshire Police which this report puts into sharp focus."