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Lincolnshire Police’s departing chief constable says force has improved on rural crime and road safety – but warned staff are tired and need recognition

The departing top cop in Lincolnshire says his staff are tired and need to be looked after due to a high workload and tight funding – but feels he leaves the force in a better shape than three years ago.

Chris Haward announced in November that he would be leaving Lincolnshire Police in February 2024 to take up a role with the National Police Chief’s Council as UK coordinator tackling serious and organised crime.

He said he has mixed feelings – with excitement for his new role tempered by sadness at leaving the county behind – and revealed there are now three contenders to take his role, two male and one female.

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Chris Haward will step down in February. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Chris Haward will step down in February. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Mr Haward said it would be up his successor to make up their own minds about the strengths and weaknesses of the force but said his own view was that it was ‘on the right path’.

His advice for whoever comes next? “You’ve got to look after your officers, look after your staff because they are tired,” he explained.

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“When you’ve got the workloads [they have], they are tired; they need looking after and they need recognition and praise.

“Somebody who can come in and be a steady hand on the tiller would be very good.”

Reflecting on his three years in the post, he expressed pride at improvements achieved despite a lack of money and resources. He pointed to tackling neighbourhood issues, progress on rural crime and better road safety as three areas where progress was made.

For the last of those, the numbers killed and seriously injured in road accidents is down 22% on pre-Covid figures.

“In the areas we’ve made investments, we’ve seen significant changes and improvements in performance,” Mr Haward said.

“I’m very grateful to all of our communities and taxpayers who helped to support that because I think you get very, very good service from this force, given the funding position that we're in and the resources we have, and you will continue to get that into the future regardless of that funding position.”

Mr Haward emphasised a positive shift in the force's wellbeing, welfare, and culture – which meant it was recognised as one of the UK's Top 50 inclusive employers.

“I'd like to think I've kind of left Lincolnshire in a better place for those who follow, but there's still an awful lot to do for whoever comes behind me,” he added.

The challenges of staffing and funding persist – with the county still bottom of the table when it comes to the number of officers.

Mr Haward did highlight the force's efforts in recruitment – bringing the total establishment to 1,196 officers, an increase of 120 during his tenure – yet the struggle for a fair funding settlement from the government persists.

“We hope to maintain that, but I would be lying if I said that that's a given because the funding formula and the settlement we had this year place us under significant pressure again.

“The police and crime commissioner, myself and whoever the future chief constable will be will have to go in there and speak to the policing minister and the Home Secretary to see if we can get a fair deal in the future.”

Mr Haward suggested taxes may need to go up to try to meet the funding shortfalls. He heralded community support for tax rises in the past and emphasised the force's effectiveness despite financial constraints.

With the police and crime commissioner (PCC) election approaching this year, Mr Haward kept his distance from politics, expressing confidence in continued collaboration with any successor.

What’s your view on the county’s police force? Is it time the Government listened to the calls for fairer funding? Post your thoughts in the comments below

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