I won’t cut number of officers - Hardwick

Alan Hardwick (centre) has vowed to retain all 1,100 frontline officers in the country.
Alan Hardwick (centre) has vowed to retain all 1,100 frontline officers in the country.

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick has vowed to keep the county’s 1,100 front-line officers in a job - despite the pressure to make significant cuts.

Mr Hardwick has also promised to retain all 149 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), even if the County Council withdraws funding.

The message comes as his own future as Commissioner continues to be shrouded in speculation.

Mr Hardwick has yet to reveal whether he will stand for the £85,000-a-year post in May’s election.

Speaking at a police community forum in Horncastle last week, he said it would be ‘wrong’ to read anything into his pledge not to axe any officers, despite increased financial pressure.

Mr Hardwick said: “Whatever happens in the election - and irrespective of whether or not I stand - I am putting things in place to ensure we don’t lose any frontline officers - or any PCSOs.

“Given the financial position, it will not be easy to achieve that.

“However, as Commissioner, I have a duty to the people of Lincolnshire to keep them safe and secure.

“Our officers and our PCSOs do an absolutely fantastic job and I will find the money and do everything I can to make sure there are no reductions in numbers.”

There has been widespread speculation that frontline officers could come under threat because of cutbacks in central Government funding.

Mr Hardwick - backed by Chief Constable Neil Rhodes - is leading the campaign for more cash for the county force.

He is ‘hopeful’ the Government will change the current funding formula which, he says, penalises successful forces, particularly in rural area.

The Government has admitted it is looking at the whole issue of funding but has yet to make any firm announcement.

Meanwhile, cash-strapped Lincolnshire County Council has admitted it is considering whether to continue to help funding the force’s PCSOs.

Mr Hardwick said: “I have heard and read about the (county council cuts) and the rumours that funding for PSCOs might come to an end.

“However, nothing has arrived on my desk yet.

“But, as I said, even if that avenue of funding is switched off, I will find the money somehow to keep our PCSOs.”

Asked about his own future, Mr Hardwick said he would make a decision ‘within the next few weeks’.

He added: “Hand on heart, I haven’t made my mind up what to do.

“I’ve been too busy trying to sort out a whole range of issues.

“I realise there is a deadline a few weeks before the election and I will meet that.”

The Conservatives (Marc Jones) and UKIP (Victoria Ayling) have already announced their candidates for the elections but Mr Hardwick said the fact he is an independent allowed him extra time to make a decision.