Po­lice ‘close to ex­haus­tion’ in Arena bomb after­math

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN SCHEERHOUT

STRETCHED po­lice of­fi­cers strug­gling to cope in the after­math of the Manchester Arena ter­ror at­tack are reach­ing the point of ex­haus­tion, a se­nior of­fi­cer has warned.

Chief In­spec­tor Ian Hanson blamed a com­bi­na­tion of sav­age cuts – which has seen po­lice num­bers slashed – and the huge na­tional drive to fight ter­ror­ism which means there are around 500 live in­ves­ti­ga­tions at any one time and an MI5 watch­list of 3,000 peo­ple of con­cern.

A huge in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing into how mass mur­derer Sal­man Abedi car­ried out the Arena atroc­ity, killing 22 and in­jur­ing many more.

The bomb­ing at­tack came at a time when a se­ries of cuts had brought GMP close to with­draw­ing en­tirely from com­mu­nity polic­ing, which had be­come its bedrock over the pre­vi­ous decade.

CI Hanson, chair­man of the Greater Manchester branch of the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion, spoke out af­ter Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins and Mayor Andy Burn­ham have al­ready in­di­cated the 6,000-plus po­lice of­fi­cers in GMP isn’t enough.

He said: “Let us be re­ally clear in that a de­ter­mined at­tack such as the one we saw at the Manchester Arena is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to pre­vent.

“Such are the scale of watch lists that se­cu­rity ser­vices can­not place lit­er­ally thou­sands of peo­ple on round-the-clock sur­veil­lance. How­ever, the sin­gle most ef­fec­tive weapon against the ter­ror­ist is the po­lice of­fi­cer and PCSO on the ground.

“It is they who de­velop the trust and con­fi­dence of our com­mu­ni­ties and to whom in­for­ma­tion is qui­etly and con­fi­den­tially passed re­lat­ing to in­di­vid­u­als who are caus­ing con­cern due to their be­hav­iour.

“This sim­ple and longestab­lished for­mula, which has its ori­gins in ev­ery­thing that is the bedrock of Bri­tish polic­ing, has been re­spon­si­ble for avert­ing nu­mer­ous ter­ror­ist at­tacks over the years and has un­doubt­edly saved many lives.

“No mat­ter what our back-ped­dling politi­cians may now be say­ing, the re­al­ity of the im­pact of los­ing tens of thou­sands of po­lice of­fi­cers off our streets is that we as a so­ci­ety are much less welle­quipped to keep peo­ple safe than we used to be.

“In 2010, Greater Manchester Po­lice had just over 8,000 of­fi­cers and now we have plum­meted to lit­tle over 6,000.

“Those of­fi­cers and po­lice staff col­leagues have been work­ing beyond ca­pac­ity for some time now, but my fear is that they are now reach­ing sat­u­ra­tion ex­haus­tion.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties saw a mon­u­men­tal re­sponse to the Manchester Arena bomb­ing, but this was pro­vided by peo­ple who were al­ready giv­ing their point and all and they now need those politi­cians who have been telling them for the past seven years that polic­ing is ad­e­quately re­sourced to get into the real world.

“Politi­cians need to stop try­ing to re­write the his­tory of the past seven years in try­ing to ex­plain what they ‘re­ally meant’ when they stacked up against those polic­ing pro­fes­sion­als whose bud­gets they were slash­ing - telling them to ‘get on with it’ and us­ing that ridicu­lous term of ‘do­ing more with less’.

“The only thing you get for less is less - and that’s what the public are get­ting at the mo­ment.”

Chief In­spec­tor Ian Hanson (in­set), Greater Manchester chair­man of the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion haw warned of­fi­cers are strug­gling to cope with the after­math of the Arena bomb­ing

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