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Lincolnshire Police’s chief constable Chris Haward talks about the positive work of the force’s officers

As Chief Constable I am immensely proud of the work and service given by Lincolnshire Police to keep our society safe and peaceful, writes Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Chris Haward in a new monthly column.

I am also very grateful to the public of Lincolnshire who show us support daily as we carry out our duties. At the same time, I am equally saddened by the persistently negative portrayal of policing which does not reflect the incredible examples of compassion, courage, professionalism, and dedication to service which I see every single day from my officers and staff.

I am not saying things don’t go wrong and policing should not be exempt from criticism when this is justified but these stories often relate to individuals and not the whole service. I am sure many of you will have been influenced by such stories and have adjusted your view of policing as a result. I completely understand why but the activities of the very few should not tar the majority who work for this force and who come into work or wear their uniforms with immense pride and genuinely set out to make a difference.

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Chris Haward. Photo: Lincolnshire Police
Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Chris Haward. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

I hope, in writing this piece, I might be able to show you more about what we do and the people behind it. Policing is so much more than just chasing criminals and tackling crime. In fact, our oath of attestation is about maintaining the peace, protecting your human rights, keeping you safe and protecting you from harm. This includes a multitude of responsibilities from responding to people in crisis, dealing with serious road collisions, tackling online child abuse and paedophilia, to combatting county lines, dealing with serious and organised crime, and protecting vulnerable people from exploitation across the county. As I write this, my officers have just been engaged in helping communities across the county following the flooding because of Storm Babet, including the evacuation of residents in Wainfleet and elsewhere. We are also working hard to reassure our Jewish and Muslim communities following the awful situation that has developed across Israel and Gaza and will continue to do this in the coming weeks.

As Chief Constable, it is important to me that my officers and staff are recognised for the incredible work that they do in an often thankless environment. Just recently I had the honour of presenting Chief Constable Commendations to dozens of officers and staff. These are awards that can recognise anything from extreme dedication and commitment, to dealing with lives at risk.

Alongside these I presented four Royal Humane Society Awards, which are awarded for acts of bravery in the saving of human life and for effecting successful resuscitations.

Police officers. Photo: Lincolnshire Police
Police officers. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

These particular Royal Humane Awards, relate to incidents where:

  • A member of the public was drowning, police assistance was required to retrieve the person from the water. CPR was initiated in difficult conditions, and a pulse was only present when the paramedics arrived due to the actions of the officers.
  • A member of the public arrived at a property of a suicidal man, who had already lost a considerable amount of blood. Quick-thinking allowed them to fashion a makeshift tourniquet, which ultimately kept the person alive until medical care arrived. This member of the public was also inflicting violence and abuse as the officers were trying to help.
  • A member of the public had overdosed in a public location. Our officers provided CPR until medical assistance arrived, again preserving life.

Bear in mind that in all of these situations we still have to police the scene, which includes securing any crime scene and conducting local enquiries and witness statements, as well as maintaining order with the public and any crowds gathering, and co-ordination with other emergency services.

The Chief Constable’s Commendations were given to a range of police officers, police staff, volunteers, and a member of the public. I heard about people who went out of their way to keep you and others safe despite significant risk to themselves or the personal impact as a result of some of the things they dealt with. For example, I gave out commendations for:

  • The quick-thinking and actions of officers relating to an incident of child abduction and grooming, resulting in the safeguarding of a vulnerable child and the apprehension of the suspected offenders, which has undoubtedly prevented further offences occurring.
  • Innovative thinking within our Paedophile Online Investigation Team – seeing a safeguarding network set up that trains additional officers to provide educational and safeguarding visits, which are in furtherance to what the force could deliver.
  • The extraordinary effort of our officers and staff in two of our high-profile murder investigations, numerous people having worked on both operations. Both investigations involved teenage/young adult fatalities, which, regardless of how long you have been a police officer, is extremely difficult to deal with.

We see extraordinary work going on every day. Our officers and staff think it’s all just part of the job, but theirs is a rare position to be in and actually very unique.

Only a proportion of our police work involves being out on the front line and racing around with blue lights on. Some other examples of ‘just the day job’ include the work of our staff who have helped develop a new piece of state-of-the-art software across the force which revolutionises our current approach to child safeguarding. It’s called CESIUM and is an ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) application developed by Trilateral Research. The software enables us to identify vulnerable children months before the existing process and our staff had been undertaking this manually, so the software can now support them in their decision-making. The ability to detect more quickly and accurately where we need to put prevention measures in place is game-changing.

We’ve also seen a new system come in to manage Stalking Protection Orders (SPO), Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPO), and Domestic Violence Prevention Orders (DVPO). These orders are designed so that law enforcement bodies and the courts can respond flexibly to the risks posed by an individual of committing future offences. The new process means we can now better manage these by identifying the orders and tasking them out to officers, who contact victims to offer reassurance, further signposting for support, and to establish if there had been any breaches of the order.

A recent example of their effectiveness was when officers were speaking with one victim, they were able to identify the offender had breached the SPO by repeatedly messaging her. Officers were able to obtain the statement, gather the supporting evidence and efforts were immediately made to locate and deal with the offender.

Finally, one piece of heart-warming news. A couple of weeks ago some of our armed officers responded to reports of automatic gun fire recorded on video doorbell in Holbeach. When they got there, they found that the noise was vehicles driving over manhole covers. The person who had called into us had a young son at the address who was scared because of the initial report. To cheer him up, officers let him sit in their vehicle and turn on the blue lights and siren. You could argue this isn’t ‘technically’ policing, but I say it is, because it helps our communities feel engaged with and protected by policing and is a good example of how our officers and staff keep people at the heart of all they do.

These are just a few examples of the work of our people in Lincolnshire Police. I could put a lot more in here to show just how lucky we are to have such incredible people who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe. Policing is all about people. From the people who work here – all the officers, staff, volunteers – to those we serve. The thing that underpins why every individual who works here comes in every day is that they try to help other people, whoever that may be.

From Police Constable to Chief Constable, we are all just ordinary human beings who want serve communities in the county of Lincolnshire. Something that therefore upsets me, and should be known within the public domain, is that we have had a surge in the rise of assaults on police staff in recent years. We are fortunate to enjoy the freedoms we have in the UK and our police service is a fundamental part in protecting those rights. But our police officers and staff should be afforded the same consideration – being assaulted is not part of their job, it is not in their job description, and it is saddening to see greater and greater acceptance in society that this is acceptable.

As Chief Constable I, for one, am extremely grateful for the work my officers and staff do. Of course, there are things we can still improve on, and we work very hard to keep moving forward.

I hope that next time you see a police officer or member of police staff, you might think about your interaction with them. A friendly smile, a hello, you might take the time to convey your thanks to them, or even ask some of those burning questions that people so often have – if operational commitments allow, they will be more than happy to talk through things with you.

I hope this has been interesting and has given you a better insight into the complexities and variety of policing. It is my intention to do this on a monthly basis, looking at the work we are doing and some of the issues impacting on our service.

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