The news that Greater Manchester Police is to be put into special measures is appalling and points to failures by Mayor Andy Burnham in his role as Police and Crime Commissioner.
Today we have also seen Chief Constable Ian Hopkins resign with immediate effect. The police force, plagued by a catalogue of serious issues in the last few years, must present a plan of improvement or face the possibility of the Home Secretary stepping in. Mayor Andy Burnham must take these issues within GMP seriously and resolve them to avoid further measures being brought forward to address them.
The move into special measures will see far more involvement and external support from the Inspectorate, the Home Office, and the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council and measures put in place until the force can demonstrate adequate improvement. In the last few years only one other police force has been put under special measures.
This news comes after the release last week of the police inspectorate’s damning report, where the author revealed that GMP are one of the worst police forces in the country for recording crime. The situation has been described as ‘wholly unacceptable’, victims of crime are not being protected and vulnerable victims are being ‘denied justice’. Just days later, GMP’s newly installed computer system, iOPS, crashed, forcing 999 call handlers to resort to pen and paper.
This is the second time this year that GMP’s computer system has crashed, and the installation of the system has led to missing crime data for more than a year, as well as the revelation that 1 in 4 crimes are not being recorded.
The police inspectorate had already warned GMP in both 2016 and 2018 about inaccurate crime recording, and even criticised the force’s approach to vulnerable victims in 2019. However, the inspectorate says that the situation has since ‘significantly deteriorated’ and concerns must be urgently addressed.
I have repeatedly raised concerns about GMP’s computer system, the treatment of victims and whistleblowers, as well as the lack of action from our region’s Police and Crime Commission, Mayor Andy Burnham.
In my role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for whistleblowing, I have also had the privilege of listening to the powerful testimony of brave whistleblowers who have raised the alarm on serious issues in GMP some of which were highlighted in the recent report into child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, Operation Augusta.
I have frequently raised issues affecting my residents with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Mayor Andy Burnham, and action is now overdue to address this serious situation.
The ultimate responsibility for fighting crime in Greater Manchester lies with the Police and Crime Commissioner. Unfortunately, it appears that this area of his responsibilities has not been given his full attention, leading to poor decision making, denial of justice to victims, and unnecessary risk for residents and police officers on the front line.
In his statement released today, Mr Burnham acknowledges that his role is ‘to hold the force to account’ which he adds he was ‘elected to do.’ I agree. However, I don’t think anyone would agree that GMP should have got to the point where special measures were necessary, before action was taken.
Mr Burnham must act swiftly to rectify the problems in GMP, before the end of his term in office in the first half of next year.