Lincolnshire Policing at “financial precipice”

Alan Hardwick - dire wanring about the future of policing in the county
Alan Hardwick - dire wanring about the future of policing in the county

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick has given a dire warning about the future for policing in the country - if the Government imposes further cutbacks.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Hardwick says any reductions in funding would leave Lincolnshire among the forces that would be facing a “financial precipice.”

In an emotional message to Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, Mr Hardwick pleaded: “Leave Lincolnshire alone.”

Mr Hardwick also claimed the Government could save a staggering £1billion a year, if it rolled out Lincolnshire’s successful model of policing on a national basis.

He warned the Government would be committing a “grave error” if there were further cutbacks because Lincolnshire would not be able to maintain 1,100 front-line officers, or the standards of policing people expected.

He also claimed the Government could reduce spending because some other forces were “leaking money.”

Mr Hardwick said: “I have visited most police stations and spoken to hundreds of officers and volunteers and staff.

“Believe me, this force goes above and beyond for the communities it serves.

“I am convinced that is one of the reasons the Prime Minister praised the force for doing so much with so little money.

“I am also convinced that caring attitude, that professionalism and devotion to duty - real community policy - helped to get us the outstanding rating from HM Inspector of Constabulary.

“The Chief Constable and myself have written to the Home Secretary and said - what more can we do? We are on top of our game. We are an example to other forces.

“Why don’t you come to Lincolnshire, see how we police and how we manage to be so effective. All local authorities are feeling the pinch, but as far as the police in Lincolnshire are concerned, we do so much with so little money that we would like you to leave us alone.

“We’re not asking for more money - just don’t take any more away from us.”

Mr Hardwick went on to call for a “level playing field” in terms of funding and said Lincolnshire actually had a strong claim for additional cash - because the force was so successful.

He added: “There are some forces that are able to spend three times what we spend per case investigated.

“That can’t be right because some of these forces are just like Lincolnshire in that they are rural, they are not high crime and yet they have reserves of many millions of pounds.

“In Lincolnshire we haven’t. We have got reserves but we are not a wealthy force.

“I am not crying the poor tale. Let’s make it the same for everybody. Let’s level the playing field.

“I have told the Home Secretary in the letter that if other forces were funded at the same cost per head of population as Lincolnshire, then the Government could save £1billion in the grants it gives to forces. That is an awful lot of money, by any reckoning. That is a fact.

“The Lincolnshire model of policing is the most efficient and cost effective in England and Wales. No-one can come remotely close to us in terms of value of money.”

Mr Hardwick went on to talk about the damage any additional cutbacks would cause.

He added: “Every commissioner is fearful that there will be more cuts.

“We’re used to doing so much with so little we are in better position to cope with that than other forces.

“I just hope we don’t have to cope with it. I really do.

“As the chief and I see finances, I can continue to keep 1,100 officers on the front line - certainly for this financial year and the next financial year.

“But in 2016, there is going to be a different picture. If the cuts continue as they have been, I think a lot of forces are going to be facing the financial precipice.

“What I fear is that the public aren’t going to be receiving the service that they deserve.

“If it comes to that point then the Government will have committed a grave error.

“It’s like any other business. You can’t keep starving it of any money and expect the doors to stay open. You can’t expect it to remain in business.

“It’s bad enough if a local shop goes out of business. Here we are talking about hundreds of thousands of lives.”