You will probably have heard that Greater Manchester Police was placed in special measures last month after a report highlighted some serious shortcomings. The Chief Constable has resigned and Metro Mayor Andy Burnham and his Deputy for Policing and Crime, Beverley Hughes, are working with the force on an improvement plan to turn things around.

The report was fairly damning and there were some shocking findings about the service that has been provided to some victims. Our communities deserve better.

With all this said, I am lucky to work closely with the police on a wide range of issues in my role as an MP and I know that there are lots of really dedicated officers, doing an amazing job in very difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, our police services have had over a decade of huge cuts imposed on them by consecutive Tory Governments, which have often left them overstretched.

Ahead of the 2019 General Election, the Prime Minister promised 20,000 new police officers – not only will it take time to train these new officers, more than 20,000 police officers were cut by the Tories since 2010, whilst the population has grown significantly over the same period.

What we need in Greater Manchester – and indeed across the country – is a return to proper neighbourhood policing. This is clearly something that Andy Burnham recognises and every council ward in Greater Manchester now has a named police officer and PCSO. You can put your postcode in on the GMP website to find out who your local officers. I think that this is essential to rebuild the trust between our communities and police after a difficult few years.

Of course, we can and should also play a part ourselves – particularly during this time of lockdown restrictions. Some of the events of the Summer were good examples of low-level anti-social and restriction-breaking behaviour that took up a lot of police time. Whether it was illegal raves and gatherings or the huge car meet in Dane Bank, the police had to deal with these issues, diverting them from investigating other crimes.

So let’s support them to support us, to keep us safe and to put the recent troubled history behind us and move forward together.

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