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Paul Gibson calls for funding not to overshadow the good work as he takes charge of Lincolnshire Police

The county’s new Chief Constable has said he does not want the force’s financial struggles to overshadow the work of Lincolnshire Police.

Paul Gibson, 50, who started his career in Grantham in 1998 and spent 19 years in the force before leaving to take on the role of Assistant Chief Constable in Derbyshire Police, has officially started in his new role in the top job in Lincolnshire.

He replaces Chris Haward, who left the force to take up a role with the National Police Chiefs' Council as UK coordinator tackling serious and organised crime.

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Paul Gibson. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Paul Gibson. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Mr Gibson said everyone understood that Lincolnshire Police was underfunded, and that he would work closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner to find a sustainable solution.

“It’s a perennial issue and something that’s been discussed year in, year out. I don’t underestimate the challenge of dealing with that - the evidence base is clear that Lincolnshire Police is the least funded force in England and Wales,” he said.

“But that shouldn’t just be the defining narrative of Lincolnshire Police because there is so much good stuff going on here.”

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Paul Gibson. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Paul Gibson. | Image: Daniel Jaines

“Our men and women work 24/7 to deliver the best service they can and we mustn’t forget that when we’re talking about funding.”

He assessed the state of Lincolnshire Police positively, describing it as being in “a good place” with committed staff and good cultural foundations.

He noted significant reductions in crimes like burglary and car crime.

However, he acknowledged there was always room for improvement, he was impressed with where the organisation is currently.

His priorities moving forward included improving public confidence, ensuring that neighbourhood policing presence and community engagement was clear and developing a thoughtful and effective policing service to deal with calls, investigations, and high-harm offenders.

He praised work going into the three-year police uplift programme and looked forward to younger officers completing their training.

Lincolnshire Police stock image with new crest. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Lincolnshire Police stock image with new crest. | Image: Daniel Jaines

However, when questioned on getting more officer presence on the street to increase engagement, he said: “In terms of discussions and engagement with our communities, there are many ways that can be done.”

He said communication didn’t always necessitate being there in person.

“In-person [discussion] is important, but there’s also technology and a number of virtual ways that we can actually engage better, which is something that’s important to me and that we’ll be developing over time.”

“Of course, it would be nice. I know, that's a community sentiment but that engagement is the important bit and listening to what people have to say and what they want from their police service.”

Prior to joining Lincolnshire Police in 1998, Mr Gibson had a career in molecular medicine.

“The reason I left medicine to come into policing was that real connection to being able to intervene where powers are abused and people are hurt or harmed.

“I wouldn't look back and change anything about my career. It's been fantastic. It's not always been easy but to actually come back here, as the Chief Constable to support this organisation, is a real privilege”

Since stepping into Grantham Police station 26 years ago he said policing had “changed massively”.

He said the complexity of police work has increased, with a greater focus on hidden harm offences and significant risks not often seen by the public.

He noted rising demand and public expectations.

Criminality and how crimes are committed are becoming more complex as well, requiring police officers to constantly evolve their approach.

However, he also mentioned skills that shaped his approach to policing, including learning the key street skills of how to listen and how to deal with conflict.

“I was astounded by the quality of people like my tutor and the sergeants that looked after me and just how quick the learning curve can be.”

Mr Gibson made his first arrest 10 minutes after stepping outside the station. He described it as a “culture shock” at the time.

He was also involved in major crime investigations such as Operation Alpine which dealt with the worldwide distribution of indecent images of children, including more than 45 countries, and five million indecent images.

When asked about myths to dispel, Mr Gibson said a bad experience in policing can affect communities negatively.

He emphasised that Lincolnshire Police needed to be mindful of this, and that the way they treat communities and interact with them, with the tone they take, was important.

While difficult decisions sometimes need to be made, acting with integrity and good values based on the best available information will stand them in good stead.

“One of my sergeants once said to me that in policing, you should always do the most positive thing you can and, largely, that doesn’t mean you get it right, but you make decisions in good faith based on the information in front of you and you act with integrity,” said Mr Gibson.

“That has seen me well and is something that certainly I want to reflect in Lincolnshire Police’s values.”

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