The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare inequalities running through UK society. Long before this, however, GMP has been committed to improving representation, and addressing disproportionality. The pandemic has focused minds to consider the impacts that day-to-day policing activity can have on individuals and communities, and to galvanise the importance of addressing these issues holistically, with input and support from a range of partners and community representatives.
GMP is committed to reinforcing the legitimacy of its practices. This will be strengthened by the appointment of a chief superintendent as the district commander in each district who will be accountable locally for the conduct and performance of their officers. This includes how and where their officers utilise their powers, and how their officers and staff interact with, communicate with and are accountable to local people and local communities.
It is also the intention of the Chief Constable to launch a neighbourhood policing consultation to garner a clearer insight into that which communities want from their local policing teams.
The HMICFRS 2021 report on the use of police powers, 'A spotlight on stop and search and the use of force', was published at a significant point in time. As well as making recommendations on how forces can improve data collection and monitoring of stop and search encounters, the report highlighted the need for additional training and support to officers in how they interact and communicate with people subject to stop and search. GMP has taken on these significant recommendations, and wider external consultation is underway with community groups, elected members, searched individuals themselves, parents and teachers with a view to improving officers’ competence and confidence, as well as improving communication style, explanations and outcomes from stop and search encounters. Stop and search can be a valuable preventative tool for officers to keep people safe from harm, but equally can alienate, isolate and undermine trust and confidence if undertaken inappropriately, without justification or sufficient explanation.
In improving leadership, direction and accountability, the Chief Constable will chair a new Diversity and Equality Board, ensuring that leadership and accountability go hand-in-hand, and the board will consider the extent of disproportionality in relation to a range of measures and issues. A People Board is also being established at executive level to bring staffing, recruitment, retention, progression and representation to the fore. GMP wants to be better reflective of the broad diversity of communities in Greater Manchester, and this will lead to improved trust and confidence, as well as improved operational capability.
In November 2020, the GM Race Equality Panel was established by the Mayor of Greater Manchester. The panel is focused on providing senior level challenge to current structural inequalities that exist and impede different Greater Manchester communities. This group has been instrumental in developing and implementing an action plan for change, and GMP will continue to work with them, as well as the Mayor of GM, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), and partners in education, schools, health and social care, transport and other areas to make a real and lasting difference across Greater Manchester.