‘We are concerned about public safety’: Manchester cops hammered by watchdog for failing to protect victims, ignoring phone calls

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Manchester’s police force is failing to properly respond to victims of violent crime, England’s police watchdog has found. Domestic abuse victims sometimes wait days for a police visit, and cases can be closed with no response.

When Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) assessed the performance of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in 2017, it found a force struggling to adequately respond to victims of crime, which missed opportunities to protect vulnerable people and secure evidence to convict their assailants.

Four years later, the situation hasn’t improved, according to HMICFRS’ latest report, published on Wednesday. 

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While the police promised the public in 2017 that “if you have an emergency, we will get to you more quickly,” officers are currently wading through a backlog of 2,700 calls.

The report states that GMP fails to properly prioritize these calls, meaning that less than a third of calls requiring a rapid response get followed up within an hour. “Some victims wait for several days, in some cases over a week, and in most cases, the force doesn’t contact the victim to explain that there is a delay,” the report continued, adding that “some of these incidents had been closed without any police response being deployed.”

The force now has three months to overhaul its command and control system, and to develop a plan to upgrade its response time. 

“We told Greater Manchester Police to make these improvements in 2017, yet it has still not made sufficient progress. It has now reached the point where we are concerned about public safety in Greater Manchester,” Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke stated.

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Wednesday’s report wasn’t the first time that HMICFRS followed up on GMP’s performance since 2017. Inspections in 2019 and 2020 also found that the force hadn’t done enough to implement the required changes, and then-Chief Constable Ian Hopkins resigned last year over these failures after HMICFRS found that 80,000 crimes went unrecorded in a single year in Manchester. 

Inspectors found that GMP had failed to safeguard victims of harassment, stalking and domestic abuse, as well as vulnerable adults and children.

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