Lincolnshire Police ‘requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime’

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Lincolnshire Police ‘needs to improve the quality and consistency of its approaches to investigating crime and dealing with offenders’

Lincolnshire Police ‘requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime’, according to a report on the force’s effectiveness released today (Thursday).

The grading was part of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) overall judgement of the force’s effectiveness.

Under the subheading’s of the report the inspectorate graded it as good at ‘preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe’ and how effective it was at ‘tackling serious and organised crime, including fulfilling national policing responsibilities’.

However the reported noted the force required improvement under the headings ‘investigating crime and managing offenders’ and ‘protecting from harm those who are vulnerable and supporting victims’.

Summarising the findings this morning, HM Inspector Zoë Billingham explained: “I commend the force for having made improvements since HMIC’s last inspection in 2014 but I remain concerned that Lincolnshire Police still needs to improve the quality and consistency of its approaches to investigating crime and dealing with offenders.

“I am encouraged that there are advanced plans in place to improve crime investigations and to invest in the integrated offender management scheme. I will continue to monitor with interest how these plans develop into improving services to victims of crime.

“I am pleased that the force is performing well in other areas. It works well to reduce crime and to manage persistent local crime issues. It also has developed a number of initiatives to divert young and vulnerable offenders away from crime, in particular using a restorative justice approach.

“There is a continuing commitment to neighbourhood policing and there are plans to restructure neighbourhood teams to better reflect demand and need. The force is also planning to introduce mobile data and body worn video technology, to further improve policing services.

“The force is good at assessing the threat posed by serious and organised crime to its communities, and has made effective use of foreign national offender checks to identify and remove active organised crime group members from the country.”

Both Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick and Deputy Chief Constable Heather Roach have responded to the reports and welcomed the ‘good’ assessments.

Deputy Chief Constable Heather Roach said the report notes improvement since 2014 in the effectiveness of the force at investigating crime and managing offenders.

“However I acknowledge we need to improve the consistency of our approach in those areas,” she said.

“The report also notes that we provide a generally good service in identifying vulnerable people.”

But she says that the criticism in the report of the way the force investigates and safeguards missing and absent children is being specifically addressed.

“We are currently reorganising some of our resources to respond to emerging threats and areas including child sexual exploitation, missing persons investigations and domestic abuse. These changes will improve our performance in these areas,” she said.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Hardwick reiterated that crime and anti-social behaviour had ‘consistently fallen in Lincolnshire and crime rates are below the national average’.

He said: “Lincolnshire remains one of the safest places to live in the country.

“It is pleasing they see the value our local officers and Police and Community Support Officers bring day in day out to our communities. Both the Chief Constable and I have a clear and unwavering commitment to the value of neighbourhood policing.”

Mr Hardwick said that the new policing model for Lincolnshire will ensure neighbourhood policing resources are ring-fenced and not taken away to undertake other duties.

“Much is therefore being done to keep people safe and reduce crime and crime data supports that,” he says.

“I am pleased HMIC recognises the commitment we have made to restorative justice and community resolutions and that overall outcomes compare well to the national picture.”

But Mr Hardwick says he is very clear that Lincolnshire Police needs to do more to robustly investigate crimes, then apprehend and bring to justice those who commit crime.

“The Chief Constable is very clear of my expectations in this area. HMIC recognise that victims are generally kept informed and I have invested significantly in new arrangements to support victims of crime.”

Mr Hardwick says it is disappointing that HMIC say the force’s approach to protecting the vulnerable is deemed to ‘require improvement’.

“The conclusions about missing or absent children are particularly concerning, although I am pleased to note HMIC say Lincolnshire Police has made a good start in tackling child sexual exploitation. I know every officer at Lincolnshire sees this as an intrinsic part of their job.

“However as with any inspection report I have asked the force to set out for me their response to HMIC’s findings and what they are doing to address deficiencies.”