The county’s police and crime commissioner has welcomed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) report admitting that unless more funding is made available to Lincolnshire, the force will “need to reduce significantly” the number of officers and PCSOs.
HMIC’s report on police efficiency said inspectors had “considerable concern” about a predicted budget deficit for next year.
“This is a considerable concern to HMICFRS as it means that the force depends heavily on the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC’s) financial reserves to balance the budget,” said inspectors.
“Should the formula review not provide the increased funding within the medium term financial plan further use of reserves to balance the budget will not be sustainable.
“This is a real risk to the force and means that it might have to make important decisions on an alternative way of organising itself, its operating model, with a reduced budget.”
Inspectors accepted “Lincolnshire Police provides a good policing service to its communities at one of the lowest costs per head of the population in England and Wales”.
The report comes eight months after its last efficiency inspection, which rated the force as good. The 2016 report concluded:
“It is likely that there will be service loss or degradation of policing services in Lincolnshire if further reductions are made to the workforce. The force is in this position through no fault of its own, its leadership or that of the newly elected police and crime commissioner. The force has acted responsibly and reasonably in striving to become one of the most efficient and cost effective forces in England and Wales.”
However this year’s report did grade the force’s efficiency rating as “requires improvement”, a drop on last year’s rating of good, because inspectors deemed the force was “not far enough ahead at the time of inspection to show a clear plan to deal with an anticipated budget deficit”.
They also concluded that “assessment of emerging and likely demand for its services is limited but developing, and it does not always consider public expectations”.
Currently the Government allocates Lincolnshire just £88 per head of population, compared to £99 for Norfolk, £119 for Nottinghamshire and £132 for Humberside.
PCC Marc Jones said he was baffled by the downgrading of the force’s rating but welcomed the inspectors’ recognition of the financial reality facing the county.
“It’s hard to understand how, just eight months ago the force was rated as good and the inspectors praised the force for being one of the most efficient in the UK,” he said.
“Just eight months later and the force receives a ‘requires improvement’ grade for not having a crystal ball and planning for future funding – when none of us know what that funding will be.
“The answer here is quite simple. Lincolnshire does not receive a fair share of the money spent on police and we simply cannot continue to make cuts.
“I have been raising the issue of our perilous funding situation for some time with senior Government officials and ministers and I still hold out hope that the unfair level of funding we receive will be addressed.
“In the meantime, we will continue to do what we have always done – find new and innovative ways to make our force as effective and efficient as humanely possible.”