Lincolnshire PCC doesn’t mind Lincolnshire Police being lowest funded force, ‘just as long as we have enough’

Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones. Photo: Ellis Karran/LDRSLincolnshire PCC Marc Jones. Photo: Ellis Karran/LDRS
Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones. Photo: Ellis Karran/LDRS
As the lowest-funded police force in the country, Lincolnshire has been consistently campaigning for a larger slice of the government pie, and the newly re-elected Police & Crime Commissioner feels “it’s not just about Lincolnshire, it’s about fairness.”

Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner Marc Jones has started his third term in office, and said that Lincolnshire is about £25 million a year shy of “similar forces” and their budgets at present.

He hopes to be able to do something about that, and says he is “absolutely committed” to keeping Lincolnshire as safe as possible.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Jones’ task will not be an easy one, not least by his own admission and by the figures showing Lincolnshire’s funding position as the consistently lowest-funded police force per capita in the country.

Lincolnshire Police’s budget has grown £66 million from the “verge of bankruptcy” since Marc Jones took office, but he feels there is still a gap of £50 million by comparison with major catchment areas in the country, and £25 million for more comparative forces to Lincolnshire.

“Firstly, I don’t mind if we’re the lowest funded, so long as we are funded enough,” he said. “At the moment we haven’t got enough, so whether we’re the lowest funded or not isn’t the main issue here.

“What we do well in Lincolnshire is making the most of what we have, it makes you very efficient. But as the costs of everything goes up, we have to pay the bills.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A new funding formula is “ready to go” according to Marc Jones, and he feels there is “no excuse” for it to be delayed any further by the Home Office, with reform of the current Labour-introduced model being in the last three Conservative Party manifestos.

“People in Cumbria benefit disproportionately from this formula, while people in Lincolnshire don’t, by example. I would have literally hundreds more officers if we got the same share as somewhere like Cumbria.

“It is time for the national government to sort this out, and without exception our Lincolnshire MPs are supportive of this. Ultimately, if I have to, I will take the Home Office to court over the delays to this funding formula.”

The role of a police and crime commissioner is an often misunderstood one, or even one that leaves people questioning what the person in that position actually does.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Marc earned this term in office at the recent May elections, where he saw off competition from ex-police officers, a district council deputy leader and a cybersecurity expert to claim victory.

He said he was “very pleased” with the result and hopes to continue working towards building strong relationships not just between the force and the public, but his own too.

“You’ll always get naysayers who don’t necessarily understand that we always had public governance and oversight over policing, with the PCC being the latest version, so educating people as to what it does for them and how it can help communities is still a big part of the job.

“Until we get a maturity in understanding what the role is, then we’re not going to convince the public that it matters, and I think that’s something that people who stood in this election need to reflect on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It is assuring to go into a third term because it means I can build on that experience I’ve got, and with the new chief constable being appointed, it does give us a really solid base to move forward with.”

Marc and the newest Lincolnshire Police chief constable, Paul Gibson, will be working in tandem to ensure the county’s force “does the best it can for the community it serves,” whether that’s visible policing or the behind-the-scenes work that residents never see.

“It’s quite a complex picture, but the chief has hit the ground running, and he’s very passionate about the area being a former Lincolnshire Police officer himself, so I’m confident we’ll work well together.

“However, it is still my job to hold him accountable for actions, and that’s what I will do.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Lincolnshire PCC said policing has gone through “a tough time” in recent years, whether it’s protests after the Sarah Everard murder, or Baroness Casey’s review into the culture of discrimination set at the Metropolitan Police.

He feels some of these issues around a lack of trust in policing are “self inflicted,” but also argues that national politicians and the media must take a brunt of the blame also.

“We do need to scrutinise what they do,” Mr Jones said. “We don’t live in a police state, nor should we, but I have to say that I don’t face that animosity here in Lincolnshire.

“Here we will always have our issues that we are working towards improving, but I think generally trust and confidence in Lincolnshire Police has maintained pretty steadfast despite some of the national challenges.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“That isn’t to say it can’t be improved, it absolutely can, and that’s what is going to be our focus.”

The mention of a lack of personal animosity brought us to Marc’s everyday life, and what it can look like being in charge of the totality of policing, even outside of usual office hours.

He rather honestly admits that taking a role like this is an acceptance of it being “a lifestyle, not a job” and says he can often be stopped in the most random of places to ask about a certain issue around crime, whether it’s out shopping, or queueing at a theme park with his daughter.

“Wherever you go, you are the PCC. It’s a public office and people will quite rightly ask questions when they see me, but one thing I have created is a really hard line of it being a privilege to talk to me on social media, at night, when at my own home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If you choose to be disrespectful or rude, I don’t have to talk to you like that. You are not coming to talk to me on my mobile phone in that way.

“That is one of my ways to keep sanity in these modern times, because there’s no escape from it usually. I think nuance and debate is lost in the social media debate as everything becomes polarised, but equally you have to remember that people on social media is not everybody.”

A standout point from that election was the low turnout figure, with just 19.08% of the electorate heading to the ballot box to vote. It is the second lowest turnout in Lincolnshire PCC election history, and Mr Jones felt there were “all kinds of reasons” as to why this was the case.

“It is very difficult to run a campaign across 2,500 square miles, 375,000 homes, when everyone still works on the basis of putting a piece of paper through doors telling people what you’re going to do.

“In practical terms, this scale of election can’t be run like that, not least because it was the county council elections last time around, but not this time.”