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South Holland's police numbers are one of the country's lowest

South Holland has one of the lowest levels of police manpower in the country, according to new figures.

House of Commons data recently showed that nowhere in England and Wales has fewer officers than Lincolnshire, with 141 per 100,000 people.

However, the Spalding Guardian can today exclusively reveal that the rate in South Holland is even lower than that.

The number of police officers serving our area can today be revealed.
The number of police officers serving our area can today be revealed.

Numbers from a Freedom of Information request show there are 66 officers based in South Holland, serving a population of 95,000.

The number of officers in 2021 for South Holland is the same as in 2014. Figures before this year were not available.

Police do say that officers from other areas are deployed to the district as needed – and that 30 more officers are about to join local policing teams across the county. It’s not known if any of those will come to this district.

Marc Jones (Con) (46008645)
Marc Jones (Con) (46008645)

Current county police and crime commissioner Marc Jones is bidding for re-election on May 6, and this week the current police funding formula will be looked at within Parliament.

Mr Jones says 60 officers had been recruited in the county since last summer, with 120 more to come this year.

He added: “If events unfold as expected, we should see by 2023 the highest number of police officers available for the Chief Constable to deploy in Lincolnshire Police history, which is an incredible turnaround from the force on the edge of bankruptcy I inherited in 2016.

“We now receive a 16.5%, £11m a year increase in funding from central government from when I was elected and I have successfully bid for around £14m in ‘one off’ funding to prevent and tackle crime on top of this.

“By next year we will see that rise to around £16m a year more which is no small amount of money and is directly paying for more officers in our community.”

Local Policing Inspector Nick Waters said: “We will always police to the very best of our ability with the resources we have. We continually review how we deliver the service to make sure it is the most efficient way, with a recent change to base officers in Holbeach in order to cut response times.

"We have incredible, dedicated staff here in South Holland and we ask an awful lot of them. We are sincerely grateful to the community who are, in the main, very supportive of what we do.”

The thin blue line in numbers

  • There are 66 police officers in South Holland as per March 5 2021. The most recent population estimate for the area is 95,000.
  • Since 2014, the numbers of officers based in South Holland has been - 66 (2014), 66 (2015), 66 (2016), 62 (2017), 67 (2018), 66 (2019), 69 (2020), 66 (2021).
  • The South Holland numbers include all officers in local policing (Patrol/neat/CID or neighbourhood/response CID). They don’t include countywide officers in the Economic Crime Unit, Protecting Vulnerable Persons, Cyber Crime Unit, Digital Forensics Department and the Paedophile Online Investigation Team.
  • The breakdown of officers per Lincolnshire police district is Lincoln West Lindsey 252, North & South Kesteven 139, Boston South Holland 149, East Lindsey 168.
  • Lincolnshire Police says it will soon have another 30 officers for local policing - and that officers from elsewhere can be dispatched to South Holland.
  • House of Commons Library briefing paper ‘Police Service Strength’, published in February, showed Lincolnshire had 1,073 officers as per September 30 2020. That’s 141 officers per 100,000 - 42nd out of 42 force areas in England and Wales.
  • The Metropolitan Police has the highest number of officers per 100,000 with 379. Cambridgeshire has 187 (19th highest), Norfolk has 186 (21st), Avon & Somerset has 168 (34th), Dorset 164 (36th), Devon & Cornwall 180 (27th), Suffolk 163 (38th).

Spalding Today Comment: It's time we all cared about future of police

It’s important to stress that the numbers we publish today should not be taken as a criticism of the police working to keep our area safe.

The officers we have do do a good job - and have had to carry on working on the front line throughout the strains of the pandemic.

The simple fact is that it’s time to ask whether there are enough of them - and put the facts before the public so that you can understand the real situation in our area.

In recent weeks, we’ve reported how the police themselves say there aren’t as many officers to conduct breath tests as there used to be. This is despite the fact that South Holland has the worst rate of alcohol related road traffic accidents in the country. Can we ditch our unwanted tag of ‘drink drive capital’ without officers to enforce the rules?

We’ve also recently reported the ongoing frustrations of people in Long Sutton in their quest to stop a gang of youths making resident’s lives a misery. Those residents have reached the end of their tether and have, frankly, lost faith in the police’s ability to solve their problems. That’s sad - and worrying - to hear.

It’s also fair to ask why we don’t have the same resources as other other forces. Ours is a big county, with huge distances to cover and this presents a different challenge to cities with higher crime levels. Simple funding formulae and algorithms will be inadequate for reflecting this.

This paper makes no attempt to pick a preferred candidate for the election of police and crime commissioner. We’re not arrogant enough to tell you what to do with your vote.

However, if nothing else, this story should demonstrate why this vote is important. Previous turnouts for the police and crime commissioner elections have been poor - 21% in 2016 and 15% in 2012. It’s time we all cared about the future of our police - and engaged in the election on May 6. Whoever wins, there’s much to do.

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