I have said I will focus on two issues, being tougher on crime and sorting out the forces finances. As I have looked at finance I have been absolutely staggered at how badly our force is funded. Words like daylight robbery come to mind.
We spend less per head than any other force because our grant from Whitehall is one of the lowest in the country.
Some people seem resigned to this, excusing successive governments saying ‘well we do have low crime rates’. That’s a myth. Excluding London our crime rates are on a par with much of the rest of the country, higher than the likes of Hertfordshire, Kent, Sussex and Essex. For burglary, shoplifting and sex crimes Lincolnshire has one of the highest crime rates of all the shire counties; and yet we have fewer officers per head of population than any other part of the country. We have 1.65 per 1000 population whilst the national average is over 50% higher. The Countryside Alliance has reported that in 2011-12 there was one police officer for 1037 people in rural areas compared with 581 people in urban areas.
I know we have to have cuts but we should at least all be starting from a fair position and we are not. The government are not looking at each forces starting position and allocating the cuts accordingly, they are simply cutting all forces by the same percentage. We are being treated the same as better funded forces with lower crime rates. That’s not right and that’s not fair.
As you get round the county there are many concerns about crime which, when reported, is not even investigated. It may not all be down to funding but let’s be clear such reports are not surprising if you have the lowest funded and lowest staffed force in the country with pretty average and for some offences high crime rates.
This is one of the reasons I am focusing in on this issue. Yes we want to be tough on crime but that’s a bit more difficult when the force, already the worst funded in the country, is being cut at the same rate as those better funded forces often with lower crime rates.
So we all need to do something about it. They would not get away with it in the leafy suburbs of Surrey, where incidentally crime rates are 15% lower and funding 15% higher.