Could Lincolnshire look abroad for new chief as force battles a £4.4m ‘hole’ in budget?

Police Roadshow at Sainburys car park with Police Commissioner and Depty Commissioner. Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.
Police Roadshow at Sainburys car park with Police Commissioner and Depty Commissioner. Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.

Lincolnshire could become the first police force in the country to recruit a new Chief Constable from overseas.

I can reveal Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones has been given the go-ahead to look abroad to replace Neil Rhodes who will retire in January.

The only stipulation is candidates must come from Australia, New Zealand, North America or Canada.

Mr Jones confirmed the recruitment process started on Monday when the post was advertised for the first time.

He stressed he would also be looking at candidates based in this country.

Mr Jones said: “We want to get the right person for the job. I know other forces have considered looking overseas but we are the first to actually follow it through. We are expecting a very high standard of applicants.”

Whoever gets the job will face a difficult scenario after Mr Jones confirmed resources across Lincolnshire will be stretched even further as bosses battle with a £4.4million shortfall in funding.

Mr Jones said that when he took over as commissioner in June, it was widely believed funding was in place to secure the jobs of the county’s existing 1,100 front line officers and 149 PCSOs.

However, Mr Jones has now revealed the budget - drawn up by his predecessor Alan Hardwick - relied on the Government providing more money.

Speaking at a meeting in Horncastle last week, Mr Jones admitted that additional funding had not been forthcoming.

He confirmed money was in place to protect the jobs of frontline officers but admitted around 20 PCSOs had not been replaced in recent weeks.

Mr Jones admitted he could not rule out future cuts across the whole force - without the extra money.

He revealed he had held ‘positive talks’ with Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Police Minister Brandon Lewis.

But he said that, while leading Government figures were ‘sympathetic’ to Lincolnshire’s financial plight, there were still no guarantees of extra cash.

Mr Jones explained: “As things stand, there is a £4.4m hole next year. That will go up to £5m the year after and £6m the year after that.

“We keep hearing the Government intends to change the funding formula and that indeed is what my predecessor based his budget on.

“But we haven’t got that money - it’s as simple as that. I will continue to lobby Government but it could be 2018/19 before it is brought in.”

Mr Jones said it was ‘ impossible’ to draw up a budget until he was certain how much money the force would receive.

He went on to reveal his new crime plan - a blueprint for policing in the county - would be put out to consultation this week.

It will feature several proposals, including greater co-operation with neighbouring forces and other agencies, in a bid to tackle specific issues.