Agenda item

Councillor Phil Dilks

This motion addresses serious concerns about rising crime in my ward and across South Kesteven at the same time as police officer and PCSO numbers are in the process of being cut throughout Lincolnshire in the face of a severe funding gap identified by the Chief Constable of £3.2 million this year.

For example, in the Market Deeping and Uffington police area which covers the ward I represent, last year (2018) there were 229 reports of violent and sexual offences – up from 135 the previous year – a worrying rise of 69%.

The increase became even more worrying in January this year which saw another big rise, followed by an even bigger rise in February (the most recent figures available).

In my ward of Deeping St James and my neighbouring ward of Market and West Deeping, the official police figures show there were three violent and sexual offences reported in February last year – less than one a week.

In February this year, in the same relatively small area, there was one violent and sexual offence reported for every day of the month - up from less than one a week.

Our police service has been cut to the bone nationally over recent years.  Lincolnshire has suffered from a historically low and unfair Government funding formula, but has still seen the number of police officers reduced by almost 150 since 2010 (down from 1,245 to 1,060) as part of cutting 21,000 police officers across the country.

Last September our Chief Constable Bill Skelly revealed that his force is already stretched to breaking point and facing a massive funding gap in what he needs to effectively police Lincolnshire and fight rising crime.  He warned that without additional resources, there would have to be even less policing in Lincolnshire – and even fewer police officers protecting us all.

In February this year, as the Government funding and Budget for Lincolnshire Police was finalised for the current year, the Chief Constable revealed that he would have to make savings of £3.2 million – and even more next year.

So right now he is in the process of cutting another 40 police officers and 33 PCSOs. We are also seeing up to 30 police support staff cut.

In light of this worrying position of further police cuts at the same time as crime is rising in our county, this Council resolves to:

1.  Instruct the Chief Executive to write to our local MPs outlining our concerns and lobbying for their urgent intervention with a view to increasing funding to Lincolnshire Police so that the current further reductions in numbers of police officers and PCSO can be halted.

2.  Invite the Chairman of the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee to agenda ‘Local Crime Statistics and Police Funding’ as an item to be urgently scrutinised with evidence and ‘witnesses’ to be engaged as appropriate.

Minutes:

Councillor Dilks presented his motion to Council:

 

“This motion addresses serious concerns about rising crime in my ward and across South Kesteven at the same time as police officer and PCSO numbers are in the process of being cut throughout Lincolnshire in the face of a severe funding gap identified by the Chief Constable of £3.2 million this year.

 

For example, in the Market Deeping and Uffington police area which covers the ward I represent, last year (2018) there were 229 reports of violent and sexual offences – up from 135 the previous year – a worrying rise of 69%.

The increase became even more worrying in January this year which saw another big rise, followed by an even bigger rise in February (the most recent figures available).

 

In my ward of Deeping St James and my neighbouring ward of Market and West Deeping, the official police figures show there were three violent and sexual offences reported in February last year – less than one a week.

In February this year, in the same relatively small area, there was one violent and sexual offence reported for every day of the month - up from less than one a week.

 

Our police service has been cut to the bone nationally over recent years.  Lincolnshire has suffered from a historically low and unfair Government funding formula, but has still seen the number of police officers reduced by almost 150 since 2010 (down from 1,245 to 1,060) as part of cutting 21,000 police officers across the country.

 

Last September our Chief Constable Bill Skelly revealed that his force is already stretched to breaking point and facing a massive funding gap in what he needs to effectively police Lincolnshire and fight rising crime.  He warned that without additional resources, there would have to be even less policing in Lincolnshire – and even fewer police officers protecting us all.

 

In February this year, as the Government funding and Budget for Lincolnshire Police was finalised for the current year, the Chief Constable revealed that he would have to make savings of £3.2 million – and even more next year.

So right now he is in the process of cutting another 40 police officers and 33 PCSOs. We are also seeing up to 30 police support staff cut.

 

In light of this worrying position of further police cuts at the same time as crime is rising in our county, this Council resolves to:

 

1.    Instruct the Chief Executive to write to our local MPs outlining our concerns and lobbying for their urgent intervention with a view to increasing funding to Lincolnshire Police so that the current further reductions in numbers of police officers and PCSO can be halted.

 

2.    Invite the Chairman of the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee to agenda ‘Local Crime Statistics and Police Funding’ as an item to be urgently scrutinised with evidence and ‘witnesses’ to be engaged as appropriate.”

 

In presenting his motion Councillor Dilks stated that he did not intend it as a criticism of Lincolnshire Police’s Chief Constable or the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. He spoke about the funding challenges that were faced by Lincolnshire Police and the fairer funding campaign that the force had been pursuing for a number of years. He highlighted the reducing number of police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) across the county and concerns raised at his local neighbourhood policing forum about a lack of confidence that crime and anti-social behaviour were being tackled. He referred to increases in violent and sexual offences in the Deepings area. As a consequence of those concerns, his motion requested that the Chief Executive write to MPs about reducing police numbers and that the Council’s relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee carry out a full evidence-based scrutiny exercise on the matter.

 

The proposition was seconded and in so doing, the seconder referred to similar concerns in his Ward in the Bourne area. He felt it important that pressure was put on anybody that may be able to help address the funding problem of Lincolnshire Police. He asked that Council vote for the motion to demonstrate its support of Lincolnshire Police.

 

In speaking against the motion one Member praised Lincolnshire Police and highlighted that Lincolnshire was a safe place to live, particularly when compared to places he had served as a police officer, and that the crime rate in the Deepings was low. He congratulated Lincolnshire Police and reported on initiatives, including those targeting rural crime, that he considered had had a beneficial impact on the district. He announced that the Police and Crime Commissioner had met with the Home Secretary on Tuesday 21 May 2019 and secured an extra £10m funding, so there would be no cuts. He added that the Police and Crime Commissioner had also stated he would write to all district councils offering to meet with Members and organising an event for Councillors to attend to see how the force works on an operational basis. He spoke about the structure of the neighbourhood policing team that operated in the Deepings area, which included an inspector, sergeant, PC and two PCSOs but added that tackling crime was also the responsibility of local communities. These points were supported by another Member who suggested that the Council should take reassurance from the extra money that had been secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

Members who spoke in support of the motion stated that they felt Lincolnshire Police discharged the service as best they could in difficult circumstances but that there was not sufficient police presence on the streets. A particular example was given of vehicles entering the pedestrianised precinct in Stamford and a Member’s concerns that there were not sufficient police resources to carry out enforcement action against such behaviour and that the police station was only open 3 days a week. A member from a Grantham Ward spoke about the increase in crime and anti-social behaviour in their Ward and suggested that there were similar hotspots across the district. While supporters of the motion recognised that policing was not the direct responsibility of the district council, they stated it was a way the Council could demonstrate its support of Lincolnshire Police and raise the profile of the problems that were faced by the force. A suggestion was also made that, given the success of the Council’s CCTV team, consideration could be given to further rolling it out across the district.

 

In summing up, the proposer of the motion congratulated the Police and Crime Commissioner on obtaining the additional funding but stated that the evidence of the increased crime rate was visible on the police’s website where it said that the overall crime rate in South Kesteven had increased.

 

A request was made that a recorded vote be taken. As the request was supported by more than ten Members of the Council, in accordance with Article 4.13.4 of the Council’s Constitution, a recorded vote was taken.

 

For: Councillors Baxter, Bisnauthsing, Dilks, Fellows, Hansen, Kelly, Knowles, Milne, Moran, Morgan, Selby and Wheeler (12)

 

Against: Councillors Adams, Bellamy, Benn, Bosworth, Broughton, Cooke, Cottier, Crawford, Dawson, Dobson, Exton, Goral, Griffin, Jeal, Kaberry-Brown, Kingman, Lee, Manterfield, Mason, Dr. Moseley, Reid, Robins, Sandall, Judy Smith, Jacky Smith, Stevens, Adam Stokes, Ian Stokes, Thomas, Trollope-Bellew, Trotter, Ward, Hannah Westropp, Hilary Westropp, Whittington, Woolley, Linda Wootten and Ray Wootten (38)

 

Abstain: None

 

(Councillor Clack had left the meeting prior to the recorded vote being taken)

 

The vote was lost and it was AGREED:

 

That the Council did not support the motion submitted by Councillor Dilks.