Chief Constable Stephen Watson unveils plan for the future of GMP and announces 'Promises to the Public'
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Just three months into his role as Chief Constable at Greater Manchester Police, Stephen Watson QPM has outlined his plans for the future improvement of GMP, and unveiled a series of promises to the public that set out what communities in Greater Manchester can expect from the force.
Today (Friday 10th September) the Chief Constable attended the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to present his plan, the immediate actions being undertaken and some of the successful strides already made across the force since the beginning of the year.
The Chief outlined the immediate responses to the HMICFRS report and the review conducted by PwC, which was commissioned by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
He confirmed a number of key indicators which show the force has improved on its position in the first half of the year, including a marked increase in the number and speed of crimes recorded, and the number of crimes being investigated, showing a positive step-change in the service provided to victims of crime.
Reflecting on an increased budget for the Operational Communications Branch (OCB), which is the call-handling part of the force, it was revealed that average call times have fallen and more people are accessing services digitally.
A new specialist Head of Operational Communications Branch has been recruited to drive further improvements with call handling with the intention of making the first point of contact with GMP easier, quicker and more accessible, and to ensure officers get to victims sooner.
The Chief also explained how this work is building a greater focus on improving, preventing and detecting crime, bringing offenders to justice and keeping communities safe.
This includes a commitment that in all cases where there are reasonable lines of enquiry, officers will pursue the offenders relentlessly.
To help manage the anticipated increase in arrests, the Chief confirmed an earlier announcement to re-open the Bolton custody suite, which was closed in 2017.
He also confirmed that the operation to ensure officers attend every case of burglary in Greater Manchester - now named Operation Castle - has now been sponsored by the Home Office and will be part of a national pilot programme.
Steps have already been taken to strengthen the top team at GMP, with the recruitment of a new Chief of Corporate Services, the bolstering of the local policing portfolio with an additional Assistant Chief Constable Scott Green alongside ACC Chris Sykes, and a new Deputy Chief Constable, Terry Woods.
He also gave an update on the introduction of a dedicated district commander in every district in Greater Manchester. The most ambitious senior recruitment process in GMP's history is nearing completion for an unprecedented additional 11 Chief Superintendent roles to provide improved leadership at a local level in order to better understand and address the challenges facing local communities across the region.
To further inform the work on neighbourhood policing, later this year GMP will be carrying out a large public consultation on neighbourhood policing. Anyone who would like to take part in this can contact [email protected] to register interest and to receive information about how to get involved.
The officers and staff at GMP also had an active input in the development of plans, and over the last month officers and staff across the force have been involved in events designed to share their views about what they feel needs to be done to achieve better outcomes. One of the issues continually raised as being of detriment to performance were the problems with the PoliceWorks element of iOPS.
The Chief confirmed this will be addressed as part of a rigorously evaluated options appraisal and will be followed by a clear road map for future IT infrastructure upgrades within the force.
And finally, the Chief unveiled 'Our Public Promise' - a series of commitments which outline the things communities should expect to see, feel and experience if the force is delivering on its plan. These promises have today been published on the GMP website.
Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: "It is an honour and privilege to lead an organisation that comprises a great number of officers and staff who are committed, professional, compassionate and courageous, who do things every single day that most either could not, or would not do.
"It is also true, however, that GMP is currently underperforming its vast latent potential. After just three months into becoming Chief Constable, I have been able to quickly set out actions I am taking immediately to address the problems within the force.
"I have already been able to share these improvement actions with GMP employees and work has begun at pace in all areas identified.
"Clearly there is much more to do but we are already well on the way with our forward plan for the force. This will shape how we drive the necessary long-term cultural change and improvement in services for our communities.
"Our communities deserve the best policing service and our employees deserve to have the best employer. In seeking to sustain and enhance the confidence of the public, we have reflected upon the signs and symbols that will emerge in the public eye of a resurgent GMP.
"What are the things that our communities will see and experience to illustrate the practical delivery of the core elements of our plan? To help answer this question, we are also publishing a series of promises to the public which have been published on our website.
"These promises are designed to be practical, of value, reflective of what the public have a right to expect and their delivery is capable of being straightforwardly measured. Some of these promises will be delivered relatively quickly, some may take more time to achieve, but they will all require a genuine collective effort from everyone in GMP."
"One element I have seen clearly is the passion, commitment and determination of the many thousands of officers and staff who are wholly dedicated to serving our communities and making people safer and it is this that will drive Greater Manchester Police to reach its true potential.
"I am confident that now our plans are in motion, the people of Greater Manchester will see a demonstrable difference in the force and the service it provides."