Crime, policing and the number of officers on the beat in the Market Rasen area has been an issue raise on numerous occasions at public meetings over the past year.
At the Market Rasen Annual Town Meeting last week, Simon Outen, the Community Inspector for West Lindsey, welcomed questions on any and all areas of local policing in Lincolnshire.
Hazel Barnard: Does Market Rasen get as much policing pro-rata as Gainsborough?
Insp Simon Outen: Particularly over the last few years the aim has been to build a united West Lindsey team. It’s very much about getting back to core policing, detecting and preventing crime.
We have the same level of response capability out of Market Rasen as we do from Gainsborough. I’m particularly concerned that this perception of Market Rasen being overshadowed by Gainsborough is remedied.
Jayne Ladley: Are we starting to see a rise in crime as poverty in the country increases and benefits are cut back?
Insp Outen: The historic correlation between an increase in poverty and an increase in crime has not been seen here. Crime has actually dropped by a third in the past few years.
Steve Bunney: I think people in town are worried about a number of individuals who seem to be consistently offending and keep going through the courts but are then out again quite quickly. What can be done?
Insp Outen: We can’t be held responsible for court sentences. I think a lot of officers you speak to are disappointed at sentences that come through from the court, but the courts are having to abide by Government guidelines. In terms of repeat offenders it is a nightmare. The more you take these people through the process the wiser these offenders get to our processes and how to get round them. Keep feeding information through to your local PCSOs. Keep reporting it. We will follow it up. It is frustrating for us as it is frustrating for you.
Linda Bowen: There has been a lot of talk about the role of volunteers. How will this affect your policing? Will these replace officers?
Insp Outen: The role of volunteers will be as well as police, not instead of. Volunteers are a great help to us. We have one in Caistor who keeps that station open for us. I do not want my PCSOs and PCs sitting in stations. I want them out on the streets where they should be so volunteers can help us keep our station open. They make a huge difference to the policing in our community.
Stella Tuplin: We had a crime in Union Street a while back and when I rang up to report it the operator asked me a load of questions. By the time she was finished the offender had gone. I thought, that was long winded, was it worth reporting it?
Insp Outen: When you call the control room the call handler will take the basic details, create an incident and then that will go to the control bay who can handle radio dispatch. The call handler can then talk with you and get more details while officers are on the way. We are one of the smallest forces in the country but I think in terms of service provision it is one of the best. One of the barristers from court recently said, ‘don’t ever commit crime in Lincolnshire, they investigate everything,’ and we do.
Hazel Barnard: How is the force split in terms of police officers to PCSOs?
Insp Outen: We have 1,100 police officers and we have 149 PCSOs.
Steve Bunney: How do we tackle fear of crime?
Insp Outen: It is a lot to do with perceptions. West Lindsey is the 20th safest place to live in the UK. We live in a damn good part of the country and it is a lot safer than 10 years ago.
Jane Ladley: I read in the Rasen Mail that fuel theft is on the increase and the police said there is little they can do to tackle it?
Insp Outen: Metal theft has dropped back off and seems to have been replaced by fuel theft, which is on the rise. Organised criminal gangs from both in and outside of the area are often behind it. We are dealing with it. It is a difficult crime to deal with as you cannot tell where the diesel has come from, diesel is diesel, but we are tackling it. We’re using CCTV, local knowledge and forensics. Security wise, it is very difficult for people to protect their tanks but that is what we have got to do.