MP visits town to look at police funding issues

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The Government minister for policing and crime visited Boston on Monday to hear about the need for more funding.

MP Mike Penning met representatives from Boston Borough Council after concerns were raised about funding cuts to Lincolnshire Police.

The visit, which began at the police HQ in Nettleham, was prompted by Home Secretary Theresa May following a letter sent to her by chief constable Neil Rhodes.

In his letter, chief con Rhodes spoke of his ‘grave concerns’ for the future of the force due to the funding cuts.

“We are going to have a new funding formula looked at,” Mr Penning told The Standard on Monday.

“Lincolnshire Police are telling me they’re really going to struggle in 2016/17 if they are to continue to deliver what the community really needs here.”

He said a Home Office task force team was due in the county next week to review the funding and to look at how the demographics of the area have changed.

He added: “I do understand there are real issues and specialist policing that’s needed in Lincolnshire and we need to make sure they get the funding to do that.”

Lincolnshire currently receives less funding per capita population than other areas of the UK. And yet police had managed to cut crime across the county on a tight budget.

Mr Penning said Lincolnshire was a victim of an ‘old-fashioned funding formula’ - but acknowledged some of the bigger towns had issues with organised crime and cyber crime, not traditionally associated with rural areas.

In Boston he was shown around the Market Place by council leader Peter Bedford, and discussed the new street-drinking ban now in force.

Principle community safety officer Peter Hunn revealed there had been 53 people spoken to since the ban came into force on January 12 - and all had ‘complied’ to cease drinking. He added: “No one has refused so far so no fixed penalty notices have been issued so far - so this seems to be doing the trick for us.”

The MP was then given a tour of the authority’s high-tech CCTV suite and told the CCTV system assists in 800-900 arrests every year.

Following his visit to the county, chief con Neil Rhodes and Lincolnshire Police Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said they were ‘both pleased and encouraged’ after meeting with the MP.

Chief con Rhodes said: “We cannot handle even more cuts whilst maintaining the level and standard of policing that the public expects and deserves.”