STRUGGLING POLICE PUT TOP OFFICERS BACK ON FRONT LINE
GMP is so stretched that officers from specialist divisions – even assistant chief constables – are being drafted in to help with community policing.
Detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit are among those being deployed out of their departments to help deal with a huge backlog of non-urgent cases.
A two-week push to try and clear the investigations has been launched. The problem has been caused by a significant increase in demand on police resources following the Arena bomb at a time when GMP was already trying to cope with cuts. Many officers are still trying to take annual leave after putting it off following the terror attack.
Five officers a day are being allocated from the Serious Crime Unit, which usually deals with robbery, kidnapping and drug dealers. It is understood that other elite departments are also sending staff.
Back-up is also coming from assistant chief constables who have been moved on to divisions and away from HQ.
Force commanders say a ‘Team GMP’ attitude is required from all.
Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said: “Over two weeks, we’re running a force-wide operation to support frontline staff in meeting the demand. People from across the force, including those from specialist divisions, are responding to the significant demand that we’re seeing on policing from local communities.
“All of our officers have a range of skills that enable them to do their job in protecting the people of Greater Manchester as efficiently and effectively as they can.
“While specialist officers can be deployed as part of this operation, their priority is still to respond to critical incidents that require their specific skill set. By utilising our resources from across the force, we’re able to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
GMP has seen its budget drop by £180m since 2010, shedding nearly a quarter of its front-line officers and 1,000 support staff.
In the aftermath of the bomb, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, commenting on the force’s current strength, said: “Six thousand two hundred (officers) does feel like the lower end of reasonable”.
A decade ago, then Chief Constable Michael Todd didn’t believe his 8,000-strong rank of officers was enough. He wanted 10,000 officers, but since then the region’s population has grown by several hundred thousand to not far short of 3m.
Terrorism and other complex policing and safety issues – including cyber crime and child grooming – have also emerged for GMP to tackle.
Community policing has suffered because of cuts and the Arena bomb