‘Overstretched’ GMP increasing its presence this weekend after new restrictions come into force
Date published: 31 July 2020
GMP officers will continue with its four E’s approach (engage, explain, encourage and then enforce)
A ‘very, very overstretched’ Greater Manchester Police will be increasing its presence in light of tighter lockdown restrictions across the region.
Crime is rising to pre-pandemic levels according to deputy mayor Beverley Hughes, with the force preparing to act on intelligence of further illegal gatherings this weekend.
Ms Hughes told a press conference today (Friday 31 July) that enforcement would only happen when ‘absolutely necessary’.
“The enforcement powers that police have are restricted to instances where there are concerns about public order,” she said.
“In that case there are powers we can use and there are also fixed penalty notices, and that would really be in the case of very large house parties or situations where there is disorder in and around a property.
“The police are ready for that, their resources are finite as ever, they will do the very best they can to make sure people are protected and they can encourage people to comply with these new regulations.”
The new measures banning separate households meeting inside have not granted police officers extra powers to enter people’s homes without consent.
Instead GMP will revert to a style of policing focused on encouraging the public to abide by the new rules and to explain why they are necessary.
Ms Hughes said that GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and other police chiefs around the country were ‘trying hard’ to get further clarification from the government about how the restrictions would affect policing.
The force has been kept busy throughout the pandemic by numerous illegal raves, car rallies and gatherings, as well as fatal shootings and stabbings.
She said: “The police here, as in many other places, are very, very overstretched.
“Crime levels are rising to normal and there have been very serious cases recently.
“The operation mounted over the last few weeks will continue through August in relation to those activities.
“There will be a very significant presence of police over the coming weekend because of intelligence and what we expect.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said: “Greater Manchester Police will continue with our approach of policing by consent and remain consistent with the four E’s approach that we have taken so far. We will continue to work with our communities. We will engage with people, explain the current circumstances and encourage people to do the right thing in complying with the government guidelines. We will only take enforcement action as a last resort, when people are not listening and putting others at risk.
“This weekend we will be again increasing our resources dedicated to preventing illegal raves and large gatherings. We have already prevented a number of events from taking place, arrested a number of people in connection with the irresponsible organisation of unlicensed and seized equipment. There is a clear risk from attendance at any of these events or gatherings as there are no safety measures in place and we urge everyone to stay away.
“Anyone - young and old - can catch coronavirus. The only way to stay safe and protect your family and loved ones is by following the guidelines outlined today.
“We anticipate that the announced changes - along with the sunny weather forecast – will likely result in a rise in calls to police this weekend as people report potential breaches of the guidelines.
“Please remember that if you call us unnecessarily, you are potentially taking a resource away from someone else that may be vulnerable and could urgently need our assistance. The LiveChat function on our website is open 24/7 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response. In addition to LiveChat, you can also report things through our website or by calling 101. Please only dial 999 in an emergency.
“I want to assure the public that we will continue to risk assess all calls and enquiries and prioritise our response to those who need it most. We are working with community leaders and partners with our response to any breaches. I would also urge the public to look out for each other, as we have seen across Greater Manchester throughout the pandemic, particularly those who are most vulnerable at this time.
“Finally I just want to once again say thank you to the people of Greater Manchester for their continued support as we have seen the vast majority of people following the guidelines and protecting those who are most vulnerable in our society.”
Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter
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