Police ‘close to exhaustion’ in Arena bomb aftermath
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