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Lincolnshire is on a 'journey' of improvement but further work needed

HMICFRS has rated Lincolnshire Police as 'adequate' or 'requires improvement' in nine areas of policing, but did praise the force's improved culture.

The Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police feels HMICFRS has "overlooked significant areas of development and improvement" made by the force over the past two years, but has promised to continue addressing the areas of concerns raised by the inspectorate in its report.

CC Chris Haward said: "I am disappointed that our areas of good performance and innovation have not resulted in the assessment grades that I think they deserve. 

"The report has identified some areas where we agree with the findings, but there are others where we believe the conclusions have been unduly negative and failed to recognise the progress that has been made."

HM Inspector Roy Wilsher did ask that the report be read in the context of Lincolnshire being one of the lowest-funded forces in England and Wales, something that is also noted by CC Haward.

"This is really important because it means that here in Lincolnshire, we have to use what resource we have as efficiently and effectively as possible, and I believe we do," he said.

Crime recording - particularly of domestic abuse and behavioural crimes - was flagged as a significant issue, as was the force's response to non-emergency calls.

HMICFRS estimated that Lincolnshire is recording 88.2% of all reported crime (excluding fraud), a total which rises to 98.1% for sexual offences but drops to 84.6% for violent offences (including domestic violence).

The report said: 'In particular, it [the force] is failing to record harassment, stalking and controlling or coercive behaviour crimes. Some are domestic abuse crimes, which can involve vulnerable victims.'

The upshot is that Lincolnshire was estimated to have missed more than 7,200 crimes during the year covered by its inspection, leading the inspectorate to conclude that this area 'requires improvement'.

Confirming that the force has delivered training to those responsible for crime recording, CC Haward said: "There is still work to do to ensure we capture everything needed to comply with national crime recording standards. 

"This can be very complex, and may require additional staff to check compliance with the rules in order to improve compliance over 90%. I remain confident that victims are being safeguarded effectively, as I would expect."

Lincolnshire has also been asked to improve its performance in relation to the Domestic Violence Dislosure Scheme, Clare's Law, after inspectors found a 'significant backlog of requests'.

CC Haward said extra staff are being added to the force's safeguarding hub to ensure the effective management of this scheme.

He added: "We are allocating 12 additional detectives in the Protecting Vulnerable People unit to protect the most vulnerable children and adults in our communities."

In terms of the force's response to non-emergency calls, HMICFRS found the number of abandoned 101 calls to be above the required standard.

However, Lincolnshire was praised for producing an action plan to address this, part of which involves investing in new call handlers to improve the service.

It should be noted that the force is effective at answering emergency calls, having answered 87.6% within 10 seconds between November 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022.

While this was slightly below the 90% standard, it was the fourth highest of all the forces in England and Wales.

In terms of positive practice in the force, HMICFRS highlighted an initiative whereby work undertaken by a special constable has led to the identification of 25 officers with a passion for safeguarding.

Those officers conduct educational and diversionary visits to children who may have been involved in online image sharing.

Mr Wilsher also praised Lincolnshire's improving culture, and labelled its leadership "inclusive and ethical".

CC Haward is encouraged by this, believing it to be vital to delivering a "high standard of policing to our communities in Lincolnshire".

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