A vow to get tough on rural crime crime

Chief Constable Neil Rhodes
Chief Constable Neil Rhodes

The four candidates battling to become Lincolnshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner have vowed to get tough on rural crime.

The hard-hitting message came when the candidates - David Bowles (Independent), Richard Davies (Conservative), Paul Gleeson ((Labour) and Alan Hardwick (Independent) - visited Horncastle last Friday.

They took part in a lively question and answer session, chaired by the town’s mayor Fiona Martin.

While the quartet might be battling for the same job, they presented a united front, promising to strip back on bureaucracy to tackle crime.

All four hopefuls - the election takes place tomorrow (Thursday) - said they would like to put more officers on the beat but admitted on-going funding cuts meant that was unlikely to happen.

However, they stressed cutting back on non-urgent expenditure meant they hoped to avoid axing any more front-line officers.

Mr Bowles said he believed the criminal justice system needed a complete overhaul, claiming courts were not tough enough on persistent offenders.

Mr Bowles also said he believed police did not recognise how important low level crime was to people. His view, though, brought a stinging rebuke from a former police officer who was in the audience.

Mr Davies said it was vital more police officers were put back on the beat and said he would reduce the amount of time officers spent on non-essential duties - like missing persons and what he termed ’social service’ work.

He also revealed he backed all officers carrying tasers.

Mr Gleeson said he wanted to strengthen numbers by employing more ‘special’ constables and proposed a scheme which would see every village in the county have its own ‘special’ constable.

Mr Gleeson also questioned the wisdom of the Government spending £100m on the elections and said the money would have been better channelled into current budgets.

Mr Hardwick also called on local communities to play a bigger role in policing and claimed many officers were demoralised and were trying to work with the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over them.