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Police and crime commissioner outlines pressures on county’s thin blue line

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones spelled out key pressures facing the county’s thin blue line at a public meeting in Sutton Bridge.

Top of the list is a fairer deal from the Government with Lincolnshire now getting the lowest settlement of any force in the country.

Mr Jones said: “If we had the same as Norfolk, I would have about £46million more to spend.”

December 13 is the date he will find out what the settlement is.

He said the police budget is currently being propped up with reserves but they are running out and, if Lincolnshire doesn’t get a proper funding deal, the consequences will be severe.

“In a year’s time, we will have to reduce services by about £8million a year, which is about 150 to 160 police officers,” he said.

Putting the cash into context, Mr Jones said £8million is the sum The Met spends policing Notting Hill Carnival over just one weekend.

Lincolnshire has already had a cut in officer numbers since 2010, falling 300 to 1,100.

Another major pressure on the force is the time police spend dealing with people who have mental health problems and Mr Jones is working with health authorities to try to ease that burden.

He said: “Police spend about 40 per cent of their time dealing with people who have got mental health requirements so, when a lot of people are contacting the police, they don’t need the police – they need help.”

Mr Jones voiced concern about South Holland having more than double the national average drink-drive incidents, and said work is going on to look at the root causes.

The meeting was chaired by Sutton Bridge Parish Councillor John Grimwood and attended by South Holland community policing inspector Gareth Boxall, as well as parish councillors and residents from across the Suttons.

Among issues raised by the councillors and the public were: drug dealing and drug use; hare coursing and disappointment over the police response to some incidents and a lack of police enforcement on speeding

A Sutton Bridge resident talked about drug users getting methadone (a prescribed, legal heroin substitute) from the chemists and then going to the back of the Legion club to buy illicit drugs.

He said police should act but claimed two officers turn up for a cup of tea at a spot where drug users congregate.

Insp Boxall said police dealt with five people in Sutton Bridge for the production and supply of drugs within the last year, which was well above the average for other areas.

He said: “That tells me we are focusing on the right people on the drugs scene, not people on the street using drugs but the people who are supplying.”

Another resident outlined a lack of police response to hare coursing incidents, including one where he reported a trespasser to the police – there was no response an-hour-and-a-half later, he said, and the man was still in his field.

Mr Jones outlined steps taken to combat hare coursing, saying: “What we are doing is turning the tide.”

Those steps have included Lincolnshire Police knocking on suspects’ doors in Middlesborough at 3am and Mr Jones says the message is sinking in that they should probably go somewhere other than Lincolnshire.

But he admitted: “We can’t get to every incident, we just physically can’t.”

District councillor Michael Booth urged residents to continue reporting crimes otherwise police won’t get the budget increase they need.

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