‘I need 700 more of­fi­cers to im­prove ser­vice’ – chief

Middleton Guardian - - CHURCH FEAST DAY - PAUL BRITTON

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

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