Greater Manchester Police standards ‘still falling short’ – watchdog

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services rated it “inadequate” in three areas.

03 March 2022

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is still falling short of expected standards but has made some progress in better recording crime, according to a watchdog.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) still rated it “inadequate” in three areas – including on how it investigates crime and responds to the public – as it warned “significant challenges remain” for the force.

According to the findings of its latest report, the force was also told it “requires improvement” in five other areas while only being rated adequate for one other aspect. Inspectors did not rate any areas as good or outstanding.

Inspectors – who carried out the review between February and November and visited the force in September – found the force had made some progress and improvement and is now properly recording a “substantial majority” of reported crimes. But found “overall it is not achieving the expected level of service”.

Andy Cooke, inspector of constabulary, said: “Greater Manchester Police has faced immense challenges but I am pleased with the progress the force has made in the short period of time since it published its new action plan, back in September last year.

“However, Greater Manchester Police is still falling short of the level of service both the inspectorate and the public expect. I am particularly concerned about how the force investigates crime, its insufficient understanding of demand and how it supports its workforce. We have made several recommendations for the force to make improvements in these areas.

“The challenges facing Greater Manchester Police should not be underestimated, but I am optimistic that the trajectory and pace of improvement will continue this year. We will continue to closely monitor the force’s progress.”

In September the watchdog warned the force’s failure to improve how it was responding to vulnerable victims of crime had prompted concerns for public safety.

New head of Greater Manchester Police
Stephen Watson was sworn in as chief constable of Greater Manchester Police last year (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

It gave the force a so-called “cause for concern” – notices issued so findings and recommendations can be urgently highlighted ahead of the publication of a more detailed inspection report.

The force’s deputy chief constable Terry Woods said the report was a “fair and accurate illustration” of the force’s position in September when inspectors visited, adding: “We are as committed now as we were then to fixing these issues and that the plan we are pursuing at pace addresses each and every one of the areas raised in the report.”

Six months on, the force is already seeing “green shoots of improvement in the many areas we know are of most concern to both HMICFRS and the residents of Greater Manchester”, he said, adding: “I am confident that we are already in a much improved position and the changes we are making are having a positive and sustainable impact.”

When Stephen Watson joined the force as chief constable in May 2021 he vowed to quit if it was not a “demonstrably better place” within two years.

The former South Yorkshire Police chief was appointed to the GMP role after the force was put in special measures as a result of a series of damning watchdog investigations where it was found to have failed to properly record 80,000 crimes.

He was tasked with coming up with an urgent plan to improve the force, which has been hit by a series of scandals while hundreds of staff transferred to other forces and rank-and-file morale was at rock-bottom.

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