The thin blue line - Police boss plays down chances of more officers after two nights of trouble in Horncastle

Inspector Sara Constantine
Inspector Sara Constantine

Horncastle’s police chief says she would love to put more officers on the beat but admits it is unlikely because of budget restrictions.

Inspector Sara Constantine, who is in charge of the Wolds Division, was commenting after two outbreaks of anti- social behaviour in the last week.

On Monday evening (Jan 6), a fire was lit outside a high street charity shop while cars were vandalised, a pensioner’s window smashed and a firecracker thrown at a town centre takeaway.

Last Sunday night (January 12), there were several more incidents with vehicles vandalised, flowerpots damaged and rubbish bins pushed over. On Monday morning, police say they received additional reports.

It is understood police have stepped up patrols and that led to an arrest on Sunday night. One of the officers involved, Sergeant Andrew Price, said he hoped the arrest would signal the end of the trouble.

Recent events have added to what residents believe is an increase in anti-social behaviour.

Although no-one was seriously injured, a fire outside the Red Cross shop could have spread to an upstairs flat, occupied by a couple and their young baby - but for the prompt action of local firefighters.

Several residents are calling for more ‘bobbies’ on the beat while some people - especially pensioners - say they are reluctant to go out at night.

Inspector Constantine said she can ‘understand’ the concerns, but reassured residents that Horncastle has one of the lowest levels of reported crime in Lincolnshire.

Insp Constantine said: “I would love to put more officers on the beat, but there aren’t the resources.

“Lincolnshire is one of the lowest funded forces in the country and that’s why the Chief Constable and the Crime Commissioner are working so hard for a fairer deal to bring us in line with other rural forces.

“I am proud of the job my officers do, especially given the budget restrictions, but unfortunately we can’t be everywhere all the time.”

Insp Constantine revealed making a case for more officers in Horncastle is difficult because offences are ‘few and far between’ compared to other towns.

No further details of the person arrested on Sunday have been released but police will be hoping it highlights their strong and swift response.

Insp Constantine added: “It is important to put these recent incidents into perspective.

“They happen in every town in Lincolnshire and while the fact they have happened in Horncastle is not pleasant, I want to reassure people that these types of incidents are few and far between.”

Four months ago, several residents attended a town council meeting to call on police action against drug dealers operating in the town.

There have been other notable incidents of town centre ASB. Graffiti was also daubed on a number of buildings before Christmas while a mobility scooter was dumped in the River Bain last November. There are also unconfirmed reports of under-age drinking.

Insp Constantine urged anyone who experiences or witnesses anti social behaviour to contact police.

She added: “People often go on Facebook and other social media sites and say ‘this or that has happened’ but they don’t actually contact us.”

Mayor Coun Fiona Martin said she shared residents’ concerns about the ASB - and police numbers.