Guest column: More police funding is great news for the county

Sir Edward Leigh
Sir Edward Leigh

Our police force here in Lincolnshire has been underfunded for some time.

I was therefore very pleased that the Minister for Policing, Nick Hurd, visited our county a few months ago and met with the chief constable – as well as our excellent Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones – to hear first hand about the difficulties our local force is facing.

Lincolnshire MPs stand united in our efforts to encourage the Government to invest in our crime fighting and prevention efforts across the county.

This month I asked the Policing Minister what steps he is taking to improve the situation here in Lincolnshire.

I welcome Mr Hurd’s response that Lincolnshire will receive another £3.3 million next year and that current forecasts show a similar amount will be committed for 2020 as well.

He pointed out that the independent inspectorate notes that Lincolnshire is one of the forces that still needs to make efficiency improvements, which would be welcome,.

But I am encouraged that the Government seems to know that more needs to be done.

I have been closely in touch with the chief constable and will be working with him and the Police & Crime Commissioner, in coordination with other local MPs, to ensure the Government is kept aware of the full picture in our county.

Crimes against older people are a nationwide rather than just a local issue, but we have cause to be concerned.

Telephone scams are a particular worry and many constituents of mine have been affected by callers pretending to be from people’s banks or other institutions with which they might have an account.

In the Commons recently I raised this issue with the Solicitor General.

He pointed out that many financial institutions are creating secure specialist phone lines for the elderly or for those who look after them.

But he also announced that the Crown Prosecution Service is committed to refreshing its legal guidance on crimes against older people so that victims aren’t just fobbed off on to Action Fraud.

We should hear more about this within the next year.

What we do need more of is more General Practitioners and I asked what the Department for Health is doing to attract more GPs to work in Lincolnshire.

I am told that Health Education England has offered 85 salary supplements of £20,000 in the past two years to GP trainees who commit to spend their three-year speciality training in Lincolnshire.

This year, for the first time in quite an age, our county has filled all of its GP trainee positions.

There is still a backlog of several years’ failure to do so, however, and what we really need is a medical school in the county.

The University of Lincoln is keen to host one, and experience elsewhere shows that where students learn they are more likely to stay and serve.

The Government is open to the possibility so our campaign will continue until we get one.