Lincs cops meet policing minister

Lincolnshire Chief Constable Neil Rhodes and the Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick have both said they are pleased and encouraged after Monday’s meeting with the Policing Minister Mike Penning.

Mr Penning visited Police HQ in Nettleham on Monday afternoon to sit down with the Chief Constable and Commissioner to further discuss in-depth some of the issues facing Lincolnshire Police in relation to funding and the future of the Force.

Mike Penning visit2 Speaking after the visit Mr Rhodes said: “It’s really positive that Mr Penning has taken the time out of his busy ministerial schedule to visit and speak with us and to see how we police here in a Force that is the lowest funded in the country but is a model of efficiency. When he left we felt that he had genuinely listened.

“Mr Penning is sending a Home Office Task Force to see us and assess our situation and ideas for the future – Lincolnshire Police is the only force he’s doing that for because he’s impressed by the case that we’ve made. We have realistic expectations and are making clear that we are not asking for more money, rather that we cannot handle even more cuts whilst maintaining the level and standard of policing that the public expects and deserves. We made clear to Mr Penning that if other Forces policed in the ‘Lincolnshire Way’ millions of pounds could be saved.

“We have realistic expectations. The Minister was never going to come to us today with his cheque book but we are encouraged that he is listening and we look forward to seeing the Home Office Task Force next week. The Government is undertaking a fundamental review and Mr Penning really understands that things have got to change and we feel that our voice is being heard. We won’t let go of this and if the complexion of this Government changes after the General Election we will continue to state our case just as strongly.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said he and the Chief Constable were encouraged by the ongoing dialogue with the Home Office.

He said: “Our meeting today with Mr Penning was a positive one. He knew our position well and came to us with some very insightful questions about how we Police here in Lincolnshire and what we might have planned for the future. We made clear to the Minister that we feel we are being penalised for being an efficient Force while others are being rewarded for not being as such under the current funding formula.

“If nothing is done over the next few years and the cuts we face do go ahead it is no secret that Lincolnshire Police will be in real trouble. One of more the positive things to come out of today was the opportunity to again state that fact directly to the Minister and he did not dodge it; he could have said that we will wait and see about our position now and in the future until after the next General Election and put it on the backburner, but he didn’t and we are looking forward to engaging with the team of civil servants he is sending to meet with us. We are confident he is listening to us and taking on board our concerns.”