I am writing in response to your recent letter from Mr Wickenden commenting on the number of police officers in Spalding.
Mr Wickenden described a period in the 1980s with numerous police officers. In fact, when I joined Lincolnshire Police in 1989 older officers described a time when there was a sergeant and four constables
based in Deeping St Nicholas!
Society has changed and people’s expectations of what they want from their police have changed considerably since I joined.
For example, many of our crimes are now internet based.
It is well documented that Lincolnshire Police has the lowest number of officers since the 1970s and of course this has an impact on the number of officers in South Holland.
We currently have eight sergeants and 40 constables based in South Holland, stationed at Spalding and Holbeach.
This number includes five Community Beat Managers covering The Suttons, Holbeach, Spalding Rural, Spalding Estates and Spalding Town Centre.
These are your local officers and their details are available at www.police.uk
The remaining constables are divided into shifts, providing 24-hour response to emergency and priority incidents across the 284 square miles of South Holland.
Additionally, I am able to call on resources from other parts of the force and from specialist teams such as Roads Policing and the Dog Unit.
Crime has fallen in South Holland, but that doesn’t mean the demand for our services has reduced. When I joined Lincolnshire Police, we had about 30 incidents a day in South Holland. We now have between 60 and 90 most midweek days and more at weekends.
Regular readers will have learned over recent months about much of our work that is not linked to crime, but other incidents such as concerns for welfare, missing children, mental health issues and traffic collisions.
To add some context to these figures, when an officer books on duty on a late shift, for every incident that they are dealing with, there are likely to be two or three other incidents awaiting their attention.
Of course, if an emergency incident is then reported, those other incidents will have to wait.
I wrote about a typical day in a recent column ((Spalding Guardian, July 24). I would urge Mr Wickenden to read that article as it provides details of the types of incidents we deal with on a day to day basis. It also shows that a lot of what we deal with is not actually a crime.
Additionally we have 17 fantastic Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) across South Holland. These officers are on patrol on foot, on bikes and in cars every day.
I am disappointed that Mr Wickenden’s comment about PCSOs appears to be dismissive. They are the eyes and ears
of their communities and in many ways have replaced the old-style village bobbies.
They do not have the full powers of arrest of a warranted constable, but they do have powers to tackle most types of anti-social behaviour.
The PCSO role is very different from a constable’s role. Because they don’t have a power of arrest, they aren’t abstracted away from their beats to deal with other incidents.
This means they are able to spend more time in their communities.
In a way, Mr Wickenden is asking the wrong question, or perhaps asking the right question of the wrong person. I can’t change the number of officers that we have.
The Chief Constable has previously said that our staffing levels are at a ‘tipping point’ and if they were to reduce further this would have an impact on the service we offer.
My job is to make sure I place the officers we have in the right place at the right time.
This isn’t something that we can always achieve because of the demand of emergency incidents, but I remain committed to providing South Holland with the best policing service that we can with the numbers that we have.
Community Policing Inspector