Conservative Lincolnshire County Councillor Barry Young expressed concerns over future officer numbers to Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones during a meeting of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday.
Referring to analysis of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase officer numbers by 20,000 in the next three years, he said: “It’s extremely worrying that [in the report] it becomes clear that even allowing for an additional recruitment of another 50 officers that strength in 2020/21 will reduce from 1,100 to around 1,070 – a net loss of 30.”
The report outlined how a loss of reserves to fund the officers would result in the loss.
“Living from hand to mouth is no longer sustainable and it’s acknowledged that a longer-term solution lies in a revision of the funding formula.”
However, he added: “The formula has been out there for years and there’s no sign of it coming to fruition.”
Mr Jones said he would do what he could to support Chief Constable Bill Skelly in preparing staffing numbers, but said they could only work to the facts when it came to funding and prepare for “if” additional funding came in.
He pointed to previous successful applications for funding which had seen £1.8 million awarded to the county and, along with a hike in council tax, had prevented officer losses previously predicted earlier this year.
He added that work had been ongoing to give officers the right tools for the job and committed to pushing for a new formula.
Following the meeting he said: “I’m very pleased with the level that we’ve been able to maintain.
“But we absolutely want to do more, and we want a future government to deliver us a three year funding settlement at the very least, which will make it much easier to plan for the longer term.
“We want to make sure that we’ve got sufficient officers to keep the community safe and there isn’t a definitive number around that because I think it’s fair to say if they gave us enough funding for 1,500 officers, we could keep them all fully employed and very busy, and there would still be crime to tackle and harm to tackle in society.
“It’s very welcome that all the main parties now are saying that officer numbers are something they would invest in.”
He said Lincolnshire was “ahead of the curve” in planning for extra funding and was “ready to go” with recruitment and training.
“It’s really a case of working with whoever is in government to make sure that they recognise that rural policing is just as important if not more so than some other parts of policing across the country.”