Monday, October 30, 2006

Lincs Police gets merger money

Lincolnshire Police Authority is to receive the full amount demanded from the Home Office for work preparing for mergers which never happened.

As a member of the Authority, I supported lobbying the Home Office for the full £287,600 spent by Lincolnshire Police, so I welcome today’s announcement which is reported on the BBC.

Mergers were recommended to the Government in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies. The report, “Closing the Gap” identified worrying gaps in tackling serious crime and the threat of terrorism.

(see June archive for half a dozen posts giving the background to the proposed mergers).

Our Chief Constable in Lincolnshire, Tony Lake, agreed that that Lincolnshire Police was not currently fit for purpose and that mergers were the way ahead. The most likely outcome locally was merger of Notts, Derbys, Leicestershire, Northants and Lincs Police into an East Midlands force.

But there were serious questions including the costs of merger and future local accountability.

Mergers were eventually kicked into touch – at least for the time being – within weeks of Dr John Reid becoming Home Secretary

My personal view is that the money spent by Lincolnshire Police investigating how merger could work was not totally wasted.

The “gap” identified in the report is still there – but the merger talks brought a renewed spirit of partnership across police force borders towards closer working which will hopefully help contribute towards “Closing the Gap” in different ways.

3 comments:

Liz said...

I am pleased that the money spent on the proposed merger has been reimbursed. I personally agreed with merging smaller police forces to improve standards of policing which does after alll cost us taxpayers a fortune. No doubt all the research will be used in the future when merging of small forces will be paramount - the treasury will then have to cough up funds. Ten years ago, the Chair of the police authority stated that we residents of Lincolnshire get good value for the 1p a day that the police precept costs us(in addition to central taxation). Interesting how much that precept has gone up -£3.65 then and now averaging £150 . Disappointing also that the meagre amounts given to district and parish councils is also used to support police staffing in the form of contributing to police support officers. It is disappointing that despite all the money paid for this service, Lincolnshire Police remains at the bottom of the pile in terms of performance (40th out of 43 forces I believe). I tire of excuses - not enough funds etc - always central government's fault. Getting old and cynical I think..........

fairdealphil said...

Liz:

As a member of the Police Authority, not surprisingly I support the case for more funds for Lincolnshire...

In some ways, Lincolnshire is a victim of its own success - the Authority kept precept increases down over several years when others deliberately went for high increases, without fear of capping.

Despite that, we still have a record number of trained police officers on our streets - and they are backed up, as you say, by the new Community Support Officers.

(I welcome the extra funding for CPSOs from parish councils such as our own in Deeping St James, and from Lincolnshire County Council, but most CPSO funds so far has come from the Home Office, not local authorities whether police or council).

Also, the chances of being a victim of crime is low in Lincolnshire - it is perhaps understandable that the Home Office would direct extra funds to areas where there are bigger problems.

Liz said...

I agree with you Phil about the low level of crime in the county. As you say, all police forces throughout the country have benefitted from increased funding with more police officers and community support officers on the ground. Most crime is also falling according to Home Office research and the British Crime Survey. I also believe that Lincolnshire police are supported admirably by the majority of residents (including me) as compared to some areas which should therefore assist in crime detection rates. Are Nottingham Police receiving extra funding to deal with gun crime? I understand they are under special measures (don't know if this is the correct term - they have a team in there to monitor their decision making and improve management). Any views on why given the extra resourcing, extra police officers, falling crime rate why we scored so poorly in the latest reports? I have read the full report which had some positive comment s well as negative. Are police pensions the reason for the continual budget pressure? Press reports indicate that meeting pension requirements is why the Fire Service is struggling financially. I was unaware that the precept was kept low for years (I believe it was and remains too high) - thought it was only over the past couple of years because of political concerns (and the threat of capping)over huge council tax rises which the public were angry about. We will have to agree to disagree regarding monies coming from every layer of government to support the police Phil. The implication is that central government is not providing sufficient resources, there is too much crime, we would be better protected by more officers and there would be a much improved detection rate. This has not happened nor do I think likely to happen regardless of funding. Regards.......