‘I need 700 more officers to improve service’ – chief
GREATER Manchester’s Chief Constable says he would like 700 more officers to better serve the public.
GMP is the second largest police force in the country and has 6,297 officers on duty - 23 per cent less than the 8,148 in 2010.
But senior officers say the force has faced a huge challenge in the wake of the Manchester bomb attack as it continues to keep the streets safe as well as police high-profile events.
Chief constable Ian Hopkins said that – while the public remains well protected by his force – his officers were ‘under real strain’ following events of recent weeks.
He said that boosting his force to around 7,000 would allow a better standard of service – and has now written to Greater Manchester’s 27 MPs and Mayor Andy Burnham to ask for an urgent meeting.
The senior policeman said recruiting and training an influx of officers on that scale would not happen overnight, instead taking several years, but says that the target of 7,000 was not ‘unreasonable’ given the size of the population of Greater Manchester and the policing issues it faced.
He said: “We will always do the best we can with the resources we have but we are having to prioritise and that’s why people are seeing less pro-activity around non-emergency jobs.
“I am a realist. There is only one pot of money. But 7,000 officers would feel like a reasonable figure to say that we can start to re-introduce that pro-activity.
“We need to have the debate now because, even if we get extra money, it is not going to happen overnight.
“I have said to our MPs and the mayor that given what we have been through and the wider challenges, I would welcome an early meeting to talk through policing and resources and that is what we are planning to do.
“But I do want to be balanced. I do not want to blame cuts for some of the things that we have not done or got wrong.”
Increasing officers to the 7,000 mark would cost an estimated £40m.
The chief constable pointed to an increase of 2,500 registered sex offenders in Greater Manchester since 2010, the threat of terrorism, serious and organised crime and cyber-crime as key priorities which meant those and other serious crimes would take precedence over other examples like roads and fixed penalty notices.
Chief Constable Hopkins again praised his workforce, many of whom have worked long hours and seen rest days cancelled.
Asked if the force was coping he said: “Yes, but it is coping because of the tremendous support of staff and officers who have been buoyed by tremendous public spirit.”
Barrow AFC train at Hopwood Hall College in Middleton
GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins