PermaLink We are a police force not just a service11/07/2008 03:43 PM
I have now been Chief Constable of Greater Manchester for two months. There are many good things about the Force, and some aspects that we need to work on. The world does not stand still, public expectations change and the criminal community sees new opportunities to exploit.

Michael Todd, the previous chief constable, left a great legacy in terms of the capability of the Force to deal with serious crime, organised crime groups and terrorism. I want to maintain that capability but at the same time we need to develop stronger local policing through our neighbourhood teams. Through the additional Council Tax paid by people in Greater Manchester, we are providing additional neighbourhood officers, particularly in those areas with the greatest problems of crime and disorder.

The reason I am so passionate about Neighbourhood Policing is because it works. Local people are interested in their own street, their own parade of shops, their local school - not the big city. The best way of getting information on local crooks and those involved in anti-social behaviour is getting local people to help sort it out. When you give officers and Police Community Support Officers a bit of territory and say 'you are the chief constable of this bit of Greater Manchester', they respond. They take the responsibility, as they know they have to solve the problem and not just put a sticking plaster on it.

There has to be a hard edge to Neighbourhood Policing. It is no good going to meetings and carrying out surveys if you don't deal with the offenders, drug dealers, those carrying out intimidation and people who clearly don't have a legal source of income. It is no good if neighbourhood cops seem nice people but appear powerless because the criminal justice system is not bringing offenders to justice. Public engagement is great, but it is no good if enforcement does not come up behind to make the difference. I have no difficulty in saying we are a police force not just a service.

This is where our investment and continued investment in our serious crime capability, which is possibly the best in the country, is so important. Local beat officers have to feel that the specialist staff, with all their skills and capabilities, are responding to those individuals and groups causing greatest harm and damage to public confidence at both city region and also local level. We have to be able to demonstrate how our work against the organised crime groups is impacting on the criminal markets at a local level. Local people have to be confident that it is the villains who fear us and we are seen as a serious occupational hazard to their activities. When murders, violent robberies and high profile crimes occur, we have to show we can take swift, decisive action to build public confidence. From what I have seen of GMP so far, we do just that shown by the serious offences brought to trial in the courts.

Our work on serious crime and the terrorist threat depends on the quality of our neighbourhood working, intelligence-gathering and knowledge of the local area.

I have just spent a week on holiday with my family in Italy. There in most towns you see at least three separate forces - the municipal police, the state police and the Carabinieri and there are other forces that deal with fraud and financial crimes. The strength of the British system is that our PCSOs and local beat officers are all part of the same organisation, which also deals with organised crime, murders, robberies and terrorism. This means that ideally there is a team effort ensuring that intelligence is shared and activity co-ordinated. Local neighbourhood teams also know that there are specialist officers able to provide specialist skills and equipment if their own local efforts aren't sufficient to solve the problem or gather the evidence to convict someone. Every major criminal lives in a neighbourhood somewhere and local neighbourhood staff and local people can and do play a vital part in curtailing their efforts.

This weekend is a special one in the life of our country. I am proud that police officers will be assisting communities across Greater Manchester to hold their remembrance services and recall the great sacrifices made by previous generations, and sadly still being made today.

Peter Fahy
Chief Constable

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