Lincolnshire Police have been warned they will have to join the queue of forces across the country who are battling to secure additional funding to stave off the threat of cuts to front-line officers.
That was the message from the Government’s Policing Minister Brandon Lewis MP who met leading figures on a visit to the county last Thursday.
The visit was arranged by Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins and included a meeting with farmers who raised a number of issues with Mr Lewis - including the increasing use of violence in rural crime.
There have been claims the county’s police force is being stretched to breaking point because of funding issues.
Chief Constable Neil Rhodes and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Marc Jones have issued dire warnings about the future of policing in the county, without an injection of cash.
In an exclusive interview, Mr Lewis said he understood the concerns and was very aware of claims that the existing formula for funding police forces was particularly unfair on Lincolnshire.
He revealed a comprehensive review of the formula was underway but admitted he could not guarantee there would be any more money.
Mr Lewis said: “What we are doing - and it was in our manifesto and the Prime Minister has given me a very clear idea of what she wants doing - is produce a fair funding formula.
“We are at the opening stages of that work and I hope to be able to get it done quickly.
“Every force is making a case.
“We are working with the police on what they would like to see included in the criteria and then we can put a formula together.
“However, I can’t prejudge what the outcome will be.
“Some people will argue density, some people will argue sparsity. Some will argue deprivation and some high levels of crime.
“There’s a whole range of factors and we have got to look at everything - and whether funding is based on the size of area or per head.
“I do appreciate the position Lincolnshire is in.
“The county’s MPs have made a case and made it very clear they think the formula is unfair to Lincolnshire.
“However, there is not a bottomless pit. As a country, we’ve lived beyond our means for far too long and we’ve had to make some complicated and difficult decisions.
“We’re are on a much stronger financial footing which is why we are looking at the formula.”
Mr Lewis denied claims front-line officers might have to be axed and said funding for PCSOs was a matter for the PCC and the County Council.
He praised the county’s police as ‘one of the most effective in the country’ and vowed the Government would do everything it could to tackle rural crime after hearing from farmers about a wide range of issues, including hare coursing, poaching and theft.