Greater Manchester police to be placed in special measures

By Helen Pidd North of England editor

Greater Manchester police (GMP) are to be placed in special measures after inspectors expressed “serious cause for concern” when the force failed to record a fifth of all reported crimes.

Last week Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) criticised GMP for failing to report 80,000 crimes in the year to 30 June.

“Victims of crime are too often being let down by Greater Manchester police. The service provided to victims, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is a serious cause of concern. This is extremely disappointing given that HMICFRS has been urging Greater Manchester police to improve in this area since 2016,” said the HM inspector of constabulary, Zoë Billingham.

Days after the report was published, the GMP chief constable, Ian Hopkins, announced he had been signed off sick. He said he had been suffering from labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection that affects balance, since the end of October.

Now GMP is to be placed in what the inspectorate calls the “engage” stage of its monitoring process, as first reported by the Manchester Evening News.

That is only introduced if a force is “not responding to a cause of concern, or if it is not succeeding in managing, mitigating or eradicating the cause of concern”, according to the inspectorate’s guidelines.

As a result, GMP may now receive support from external organisations such as the College of Policing or the National Police Chiefs’ Council, brokered by the inspectorate.

In a statement, the inspectorate said: “The level of scrutiny on Greater Manchester police has been raised and the force has been placed in the engage stage of the HMICFRS monitoring process. This is due to the causes of concern raised in HMICFRS’s recent reports which have highlighted the poor service the force provides to many victims of crime.”

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has local oversight of GMP, with his position replacing the police and crime commissioner upon his election in 2017.

In a joint statement on Wednesday with Beverley Hughes, the deputy mayor for policing, Burnham said the inspection report raised “extremely serious issues”.

But they suggested that during the time of the inspection the force had been under a lot of pressure policing Covid-19 legislation and was short-staffed as so many employees were off sick, self-isolating or shielding.

They also announced a dedicated hotline, supported by Victim Support, which will go live on Monday to take calls from “anyone who feels that the crime they are reporting hasn’t been recorded (ie they don’t receive a crime reference number), or the response from GMP isn’t appropriate”.