A new report has praised Lincolnshire Police for reducing crime, preventing offending, and tackling anti-social behaviour, but called for improvements in the way it investigates crimes.
This is the verdict of the Her Majesty of Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in its annual assessment of policing in England and Wales, which was published yesterday (November 26).
The report also hailed the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities and said it is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of the practices examined by inspectors.
Zoë Billingham, of HMIC, said: “I have been impressed with the way that the force works with its communities and partners, such as local councils, to understand local priorities in its endeavours to prevent and to cut crime.
“The force has a positive approach to tackling anti-social behaviour and it provides tailored support to meet the needs of many victims.
“It also works well to keep victims of domestic abuse safe.”
Ms Billingham said the force has taken ‘decisive action’ to meet its funding challenge, saying it has achieved ‘substantial savings in extremely difficult circumstances’ - though raised concern for its future finances.
She said: “Being a relatively small, low-cost force, Lincolnshire Police has had a far more difficult challenge than most and it has demonstrated an outstanding response in achieving efficiency.
“The force has put in place a second major change programme which has three key elements: reducing demand on the frontline, improving IT to make better use of police time, and changing the workforce mix.
“Despite this positive response, I am concerned that its options to achieve future savings in this continuing era of austerity, while maintaining its current level of service to the communities of Lincolnshire beyond 2016, are extremely limited.”
While there was praise for crime-recording (‘good, with a high degree of accuracy’), and progress in reinforcing ethical and professional behaviour across the force, there were criticisms elsewhere in the report.
She said: “I do have concerns about weaknesses in the quality of some of the force’s crime investigations and the way they are supervised. Delays in investigations are compromising the force’s ability to investigate crimes well, and to provide an effective service to some victims.
“There is also considerable scope to improve the integrated offender management programme, which only applies to a narrow range of offenders.”
The collaboration with other forces in the East Midlands - responsible for 31 per cent of its savings - was called a ‘significant achievement’.
In response to the report, chief constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes (pictured in the inset with Alan Hardwick, Police and Crime Commissioner) said: “This report is a powerful endorsement of the force’s current performance despite our difficult financial circumstances.”
He added: “In the area of investigation the inspectorate have suggested we should improve and we already working hard to do that.”
Mr Hardwick said: “I welcome today’s reports about Lincolnshire Police from HMIC. HMIC continue to provide an objective assessment which reinforces my own view and comes as no surprise.”
Of the criticism in the report, he said: “I have been concerned for some time about both delays in the allocation of crimes being allocated for investigation and the effectiveness of the Integrated Offender Management Programme in the county.
“The chief constable has worked with our strategic partner to address issues within the Crime Management Bureau and since HMIC visited us, a backlog of work has now been cleared. But I will be closely monitoring the force as it continues to improve the quality of investigations. It is absolutely right for the public to expect that we should be able to identify those responsible for crime and bring them to justice.”