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This time last year the UK went into its first national lockdown following a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19. The stay-at-home order put a ban on all non-essential travel and prevented close contact with other people outside the immediate household. The Coronavirus Act 2020 was rapidly brought in to help police forces enforce the regulations and it gave all four Governments emergency powers that had not been used since the Second World War.
Since this time we, in Greater Manchester, have experienced a local tiering system for different districts, red countries introduced to international travel and further lockdowns - each with different regulations. All this has required a unique response from policing and a balancing act of using the four E's of engage, explain and encourage, and often enforce the legislation in order to protect our communities across Greater Manchester. The majority of Greater Manchester has responded really well to the ever-changing demands and environment and our rates have steadily been in decline since the introduction of the vaccine. We thank the public for being so understanding and cooperative during this time. It hasn't been easy but we hope we are now on the final stretch of being able to come out of lockdown.
Changes within GMP
A COVID hub was formed based at FHQ to coordinate work, disseminate information and legislation changes and help to manage the absences and testing of staff within the different branches and districts. This has developed from a small team of people to a hugely knowledgeable hub and continues to expand in-line with changes announced by the Government.
The response to this crisis and adaptability of officers has been incredible in what has been a truly unprecedented time. Everyone working for GMP has contributed towards our response to the pandemic, whether from a frontline perspective or by working from home, which has brought challenges in itself.
Sadly we have lost three colleagues to this awful virus over the last year and below we remember them.
Marcia Pryce (03.04.20) - Marcia worked in the Force Intelligence Branch and sadly died in hospital. She had spent over 30 years working for GMP and had turned 60 just before her death. A bench is being placed at Sedgley Park in remembrance to Marcia with a plaque that reads - A caring, loyal, lively soul, gone too soon and missed by her loving family. A beautiful soul, full of warmth and larger than life. Marcia will be missed by her GMP colleagues. Marcia's sister Amira Asantewa said: “She was someone you could count on; turn to knowing that she would support and help. It could be a simple conversation, some advice, a beautifully baked cake or a fun evening out. She was passionate and full of life, you wanted to be on her team; you wanted her in your corner."
Abbasuddin (Abbas) Ahmed (21.01.21) - joined in 2017 and was based at Stretford Police Station in the Response Team. Chief Inspector Neil Cook, of GMP's Trafford division, said: "Abbas will be truly missed - he was a much-valued member of our Response Team on the Trafford district having joined us at GMP in 2017, and those who worked closely with him can only speak of him in the highest regard. Our thoughts remain with Abbas' wife and two young children."
Jonathan (Jon) Wain (15.02.21) - joined in 2003 and was based at Bury as part of the response team. Chief Inspector Mike Brennan, of GMP's Bury division said: "Jon was very much a true gentleman and a valued member of the team at Bury. His tireless work to make the lives of people within Bury that little bit better and to make the community that little bit safer had such a profound impact amongst colleagues and the wider community. He was everything that a police officer should be and more, and we are proud to have called him a friend, a colleague and a brother in blue. He will be missed so terribly by all."
Chief Constable Ian Pilling said: "This time last year we could not have predicted the huge impact Coronavirus was about to have across the whole world. What started as a rapidly changing period of time, with new rules coming in to play every day, has gradually become part of our lives and lockdown has unfortunately become the norm.
"We've had it particularly tough in Greater Manchester as parts have only had short periods of a lockdown free life over the last year. Many of you won't have seen your friends or family for months and everyone's craving a piece of normality.
"I wanted to express my sincere thanks to everyone at Greater Manchester Police, from the volunteers who do such an incredible job, to neighbourhood policing, support staff and everyone in between. It's been an incredibly tough year and I'm thankful we're now on the road to the easing of restrictions. Challenges remain, going forward, and we will see the continued use of PPE, new ways of working and a very different society and its attitude to how people come together.
"My deepest condolences also go out to those we have sadly lost due to this awful virus over the last year. This tragedy has affected us all and has been extremely difficult.
"It's still not easy for us but the last year has shown the strength of the force when faced with something as huge as a pandemic and we will get through this together."