You are more likely to see Inspector Gareth Boxall (36) getting around South Holland by bicycle than driving a patrol car.
The district’s new Community Policing Inspector has no fear of innovation or initiative, especially as his new job marks a return to home soil.
For Spalding is where it all started when father-of-two Inspector Boxall was just a raw recruit into Lincolnshire Police as a 19-year-old in 2000.
Inspector Boxall said: “I started as a Police Constable in Spalding, went to Holbeach and then moved to Stamford as a sergeant in 2006.
“Then I came back to Spalding before holding sergeant’s positions in Stamford, Grantham and Boston.
“In 2012, I was made an acting inspector in East Lindsey before coming back to Holbeach and, most recently, Boston before becoming the force’s lead on body-worn video cameras, working out of police headquarters in Lincoln.
“It took a little while to sink in that I had been appointed Community Policing Inspector for South Holland because once you qualify as an inspector, jobs are given to those whom the senior management team think are appropriate for the job,
“Clearly, my bosses thought I was the most appropriate person to be here, having worked in neighbourhood policing before, and it’s an honour to be asked because I grew up in Spalding.
“I’ve also policed in this town so I bring a bit of experience to the party.”
Inspector Boxall has succeeded the likes of much-respected Chief Inspector Tony Smith, who retired in 2009, Superintendents Chris Davison and Paul Timmins, Chief Inspector Jim Tyner and, most recently, Inspector Joanna Reeves who is joining the force’s cyber crime unit.
It took a little while to sink in that I had been appointed Community Policing Inspector for South Holland and it’s an honour to be askedInspector Gareth Boxall, new Community Policing Inspector for South Holland
He said: “I look after the neighbourhood policing teams, both police officer and PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers), dealing with community and neighbourhood matters.
“Away from the 999 emergency calls, which may overlap, the teams deal with anti-social behaviour and crime problems in the area.
“Alongside that is a portfolio that includes being responsible for the area, working in conjunction with our 24-hour duty inspectors and a detective inspector who oversees criminal matters of a more serious nature.
“I also look after the police station in Spalding, along with various staff who work in and out of the station, making sure that we work together as a team.”
Having only started his new job last Monday, May 15, Inspector Boxall has wasted no time in reassuring South Holland’s towns and villages that his priority is to keep people safe and secure.
Inspector Boxall said: “Parish council meetings are one of a number of ways that the community can talk to us, along with our Neighbourhood and Community Panels, street surgeries and police stations that are open for people to come and talk to us.
“There is also the telephone (the non-emergency 101 number) and reporting crime online (using the new service at www.lincs.police.uk/report-online/)
“Generally speaking, I’m quite sure the people who sit on parish councils have our direct contact details so that people have a number of ways to get in touch with us.
“We do try and get to parish council meetings when we can, but there are operational commitments and some of the PCSOs who normally come to the meetings are responsible for a number of parishes.
“So they may either be at one parish council meeting, when another is taking place at the same time, on duty meeting people or dealing with the problems that have been brought to a parish council meeting.”
One of the problems Inspector Boxall is fully aware of is hare coursing about which there were 465 reports in South Holland between September 1 and December 31, 2016.
The figures, obtained after a Freedom of Information request to Lincolnshire Police by our sister newspaper, the Spalding Guardian, also showed a total of just over 1,000 incidents across the county for the same period.
Inspector Boxall said: “When dealing with rural crime, it’s easy to get bogged down with hare coursing.
“But there’s a lot more to it than that and because we’re a rural police force, we’re already working to see how best we can tackle hare coursing and rural crime as a whole.
“Policing resources are stretched, although I think Lincolnshire is better placed than it could be and I’m confident that we’ve got enough people to be able to manage very well with what we’ve got.
“We also do quite well in pulling resources in from elsewhere and by putting all policing teams together, you get Team Lincolnshire.
“It’s not always easy to do that, with each team faced with conflicting demands and their own pressures.
“But generally, we all work together really well as one big team.”
The new inspector revealed that he has “no big changes” planned for the way he goes about tackling neighbourhood policing in South Holland.
Inspector Boxall does intend to make use of social media to keep people informed of policing in South Holland, an approach enthusiastically embraced by Chief Inspector Tyner.
“It’s a case of building on what’s gone before, working with our partners like the businesses and South Holland District Council.
“But it’s not just about policing Spalding as I have a keen interest in South Holland as a whole.”
Inspector Boxall took time to reassure the South Holland community that it was still a low-crime area and any fears of it developing an “organised gang culture” are misplaced.
He said: “Recent incidents have brought the police under some scrutiny but I want people to know they’ll get the first class service they deserve.”
One of the areas where Inspector Boxall will be working in partnership with South Holland District Council is the thorny subject of street drinking.
A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) came into effect for Spalding town centre last December and anyone failing to follow a police request to stop drinking alcohol in a public space could face a fine of up to £1,000.
Inspector Boxall said: “We’ll continue to deal with street drinking because I want the people of Spalding to be able to walk through the streets of the town safe and comfortable in doing so.
“If people drinking in the street is stopping that then we need to do something about it
“But we need to be proportionate in how we do it and I think that we’ve done some good work in the last few years.
“There’s been a really holistic, all-round approach in dealing with street drinkers and we’re in a better place than we were before.
“But we’re not complacent and we’ll be present on the streets because I want people to know that they can be safe, feel safe and get the policing they deserve.”