The HMIC report released today, Thursday March 22, graded Lincolnshire Police as “good” for overall effectiveness, preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour, investigating crime and reducing re-offending and tackling serious and organised crime.
The report concluded that: “Lincolnshire Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime and has maintained this level of performance from last year.
But inspectors judged the force as “requires improvement” for protecting vulnerable people.
PCC Marc Jones has sought assurances from the Chief Constable that work is being done to improve the situation in the months since the inspection.
“The standard of initial investigations is good and important initial enquiries are generally completed well. Overall, victims receive a satisfactory service, are kept well informed, and are given an opportunity to make a victim personal statement to support a prosecution.
“Lincolnshire Police’s effectiveness at supporting victims and protecting those who are vulnerable from harm requires improvement.
“The force’s specialist investigative capacity and capability generally is sufficient. However, demand is outstripping the capacity of the teams that investigate rape and serious sexual offences and internet child abuse. This is undermining the force’s ability to respond as effectively as it should.”
Mr Jones said he was delighted that the force continues to maintain its high rating for overall effectiveness – but would be working hard to ensure further progress was made on protecting the vulnerable.
“Overall the report is very encouraging and recognizes the excellent work being done by the force to prevent and tackle crime,” he said.
“But I remain concerned that more needs to be done to protect and care for the vulnerable and victims which I know the Force is working hard to do.”
“How we care for our most vulnerable is a crucial measure of how we well we keep our communities safe and we must do everything we can to make improvements.”
“Very importantly this HMIFRS report yet again points to the need for more officers and staff to work in highly specialist units to protect some of our most vulnerable residents from harm. The choices for the Chief Constable are stark with the only way of adding to these units being to remove them from visible policing, something the public feels is already too stretched.”
“I see this report as yet another piece of evidence to add the already overwhelming case that Lincolnshire delivers a high quality of service but put simply does not have enough funding to do everything it needs to do. I will be contacting our MPs to share my concerns on behalf of all residents and vulnerable victims in particular.”
Commenting on the report, Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West said: “We’re pleased to have maintained our grading of Good from last year because that means the level of service the public of Lincolnshire receives is of a high standard.
"Because of budget cuts we are a force that is stretched, meaning our resources are stretched as thinly as possible trying to deal with demand which has not lessened, so this independent inspection means that we are travelling in the right direction despite the limited resource available. We will make sure we continue to do so to keep the people of Lincolnshire as safe as possible."
ACC West added: “It’s important to us as a force that we are doing well in all the areas where we have been graded ‘good’ because they are really the cornerstones of policing – investigating crime, serving victims, and reducing re-offending.
“The report picks out some of the recent investments we’ve made in technology for a safer Lincolnshire, such as Mobile Data Terminals, as being an effective tool to help our staff do their jobs to a high standard. It’s encouraging to see that recognised in this report, and also previously by the Policing Minster Nick Hurd himself, because we know how successful those devices, for example, have been in making improvements.”
ACC West continued: “There are some areas in which we can improve and we will take on board all the recommendations put forward by HMICFRS.
“We have already begun making inroads into identifying vulnerability. A 2016 Effectiveness report by HMICFRS identified that we were using our analytical capability to support local policing activities, leaving no spare resources to analyse and understand patterns of offending against vulnerable people. To tackle this, we recruited additional analysts so that from the end of last year we can have a better understanding of the nature of this type of offending, such as links between child sexual exploitation and missing children. This area of police work is something we are committed to because if we can establish a picture of the types of crime and vulnerable people who are falling victim to them, the better chance we stand of reaching out to those people before any offending even happens.
“We know from the report that we have a clear understanding and definition of vulnerability and our approach to vulnerable people, that our initial response and assessment is good, and that our safeguarding actions are effective. We remain committed to improving our own processes in terms of analysing and understanding vulnerability.”
The report also states: “…demand is outstripping the capacity of the teams that investigate rape, serious sexual offences and internet child abuse. This is undermining the force’s ability to respond as effectively as it should.”
ACC West went on: “We have made no secret of the fact that here in Lincolnshire our resources are tight. Budget cuts have meant that while we can maintain our established numbers of staff and officers for now, we haven’t been able to make any significant investment in terms of resource and demand so that we can invest more fully in the future. Our teams working in the areas of crime mentioned by the report are doing their utmost to keep on top of demand and we ensure that we regularly review and assess how work is dealt with to try and ensure our work is of the highest quality.
“We of course take on board recommendations from this report and will strive to make sure we make improvements to continue to invest in a safer Lincolnshire.
“I’d like to thank our police officers and staff and our G4S staff for their contribution and their continued hard work in ensuring Lincolnshire Police maintains the high standards of policing that the public of this county have come to expect.”