Chief’s fear on cutbacks

FUNDING SHORTFALL: Jack Dromey with Neil Rhodes in Lincoln on Tuesday.
FUNDING SHORTFALL: Jack Dromey with Neil Rhodes in Lincoln on Tuesday.
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More than 230 of Lincolnshire’s 1,100 police officers could be lost with millions likely to be slashed from the force’s funding over the next four years.

That’s the bleak prospect spelled out by Chief Constable Neil Rhodes, who spoke about the threat to the viability of the Lincolnshire force when Labour’s shadow policing minister, Jack Dromey, visited the county on Tuesday.

Lincolnshire Police predicts it will face a £7million shortfall in 2016/17 – rising to £11million by 2017/18.

Mr Rhodes says he and Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick have worked hard to ensure the county keeps its 1,100 officers over the next two years.

But cash cuts along the lines of those predicted will see officers lost as the police are shoved “beyond the point of viability”.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Rhodes said: “The focal point of my conversations with Mr Dromey today has been about the future viability of Lincolnshire Police.

“The commissioner and I have worked very hard to make sure our current figure of 1,100 officers is sustainable for the next two years.

“When balancing our books we have found that we are facing some of the most challenging circumstances in the country.

“Already Lincolnshire officers provide policing at the lowest cost per head of population and have the third highest workload in the country.

“Yet a recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary assessment found Lincolnshire Police incredibly highly rated in all categories of policing.

“However my main worry is that our viability will be threatened after the next two years.

“Our predictions are that there will be a £7million shortfall in funding in 2016/17 increasing to £11million in 2017/18. That equates to 236 fewer officers from the current figure of 1,100.

“Quite honestly that’s unsustainable and would force us beyond the point of viability.

“Whatever the government of the day, and whatever the future shape of policing in England and Wales, we need to make sure we are able to sustain the quality of service to our communities and ensure we can keep communities safe.”

In July Lincolnshire Police was assessed as “outstanding at delivering affordable policing” by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

The force has 86 per cent of its workforce in frontline roles – eight per cent above the national average – and by March it will have 93 per cent in frontline, crime-fighting roles. Policing minister Mike Penning will visit the force in December.