Greater Manchester PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Greater Manchester Police requires improvement in the way it tackles crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force doesn’t have enough officers to do prevention work. It is seeking to address this by introducing a new neighbourhood policing model. It wasn’t clear to us that neighbourhood officers understood the force’s vision for neighbourhood policing. The force has a draft strategy, but should ensure the workforce puts this into practice.
Neighbourhood officers stated they were frequently abstracted from their duties onto other jobs, resulting in less time problem solving in their wards. The force should monitor the impact of this.
The force recruited 50 more neighbourhood officers this year. This is a positive step.
Greater Manchester Police has place-based teams that collaborate with other organisations to address crime and anti-social behaviour. Less positively, most neighbourhood officers have not been trained recently in problem solving.
We saw good practice in the way the force uses evidence-based practice to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. In particular, its ‘hotspot pulse policing’ operation led to a reduction in crime and incidents.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure its engagement and prevention strategy is part of routine workforce activity to provide consistent neighbourhood policing.
- The force should ensure that it monitors abstractions for neighbourhood beat officers to enable problem-solving activity.
- The force should give neighbourhood beat officers the training and skills for their role.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Prioritising crime prevention
We last inspected preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour in 2016 and assessed the force as good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. In 2016, the force introduced a new local policing model to attempt to strengthen neighbourhood policing. The force recognises that this model did not fully meet its needs. In response to this, it is looking again at its local policing structures to build greater capacity within its neighbourhood patrol function. The aim is to ensure that neighbourhood patrol officers can respond to calls for service more effectively. Once this is achieved, it should mean that dedicated neighbourhood beat officers are not taken away from their main role. They should then be able to focus on crime prevention, problem solving and tackling anti-social behaviour. However, these changes are not yet fully in place across the force. This has an adverse effect on the current capacity to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour.
We found that the force has no overall neighbourhood policing strategy in place. It is perhaps because of this that most of the neighbourhood staff we spoke to did not have a clear understanding of the force’s vision for neighbourhood policing. There is, however, the draft engagement and prevention strategy and a defined model for operational policing delivery, known as the target operating model (TOM). This document defines the force’s purpose and commitments to the community, and includes an overarching strategy for organisational change. Neighbourhood managers told us that this provides sufficient guidance for them to direct neighbourhood activity. The force should satisfy itself that this guidance is being communicated effectively to frontline officers and staff.
The force has completed a self-assessment against the College of Policing’s Guidelines for Neighbourhood Policing. From this, it understands some of the gaps in its provision. It recognises that the marked increase in the rate of recorded crime and the consequent pressure to deal with calls for service from the public have affected its ability to resource and prioritise crime prevention and problem solving.
The majority of neighbourhood beat officers we spoke to told us that they were regularly taken away from their neighbourhood beat role to support neighbourhood patrol officers in dealing with calls for service. This reduced their ability to concentrate on problem-solving activity in their wards. We found that the force has no policy or measures in place to monitor the impact of this. This means it doesn’t fully understand the frequency of the removal of officers or the effect on problem-solving, engagement and prevention activity. By contrast, we found that in Oldham and Tameside, where the force’s new operating model is fully in place, neighbourhood beat officers felt more able to focus on ward activity, even though they were still providing some support to neighbourhood patrol. The force intends to implement the new model across all areas by May 2019, to improve capacity to respond and support prevention activity.
During our inspection, we viewed the force’s public-facing website. We found that it displayed out-of-date information about neighbourhood surgeries and meetings for some areas. This impedes the public’s ability to inform the force of community concerns and agree local priorities. To build community confidence, the force should address this and ensure that the information displayed is up to date.
This year, the force has provided an additional 50 neighbourhood beat officers. It intends to add a further 50 officers at the beginning of the next financial year. This is a positive step towards rebuilding problem-solving capacity.
Protecting the public from crime
Greater Manchester Police now has place-based teams in some locations. We are pleased that the force is adopting a partnership approach to problem solving and demand reduction. These teams, either virtually or physically co-located, work collaboratively to address crime and anti-social behaviour. During our inspection, we found some officers who were able to clearly articulate the threats facing their communities. We found that understanding was generally better within place-based teams, where there is clear involvement with other partner organisations to identify concerns and tackle them together.
The force has good relationships with the ten local authority areas. There are regular meetings with partner agencies to share information on both a strategic and tactical level, and to identify priorities. Across Greater Manchester, 23,000 families have engaged with the Troubled Families programme, a government scheme to offer support to disadvantaged families. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has a target to increase this to 27,300 families by 2020. The force makes effective use of crime prevention campaigns at peak times throughout the year – for example, Christmas and Halloween – and tackles identified crime and anti-social behaviour trends in partnership. Neighbourhood beat officers we spoke with understood the range of powers available to them for tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. Stockport’s Operation Barometer is an example of a positive response to rising levels of youth anti-social behaviour. Working together with partners, a dispersal order was put in place and 15 young people then became the subject of criminal behaviour orders, resulting in reduced anti-social behaviour. The force also uses other tactics, for example its targeted activity in specific locations with high rates of crime ¬– a ‘hotspot pulse policing’ operation in Stretford Mill and Eden Square led to reductions in crime and incidents.
Most of the officers we spoke to had no or limited knowledge of community or ward profiles and were not able to demonstrate how to access them on force systems. Some referred to the ‘Know Your Community Report’ but it was not clear whether this is still in use with the pending implementation of a new computer system – the integrated operational policing system (iOPS). This means that neighbourhood beat officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) currently may have limited access to information that would support a broader understanding of their communities.
We found that few neighbourhood staff had received any recent formal training in problem solving. As a consequence, many staff did not appear to use a structured problem-solving model for crime reduction and prevention activity. While there are plans for iOPS to include a problem-solving template for officers and staff, we understand that this won’t be ready for release when the system goes live early in 2019. The force should ensure that all neighbourhood beat officers and PCSOs receive problem-solving training to build their capabilities, so they can undertake effective activity.
Greater Manchester Police is developing its approach to evidence-based practice (EBP) to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. A strategic board directs a range of research activity with academic partners and manages a programme of testing and evaluating tactics to improve its effectiveness in preventing and reducing crime. Across the force there are 81 EBP-trained ‘champions’ who use the OSARA (objective, scanning, analysis, response, assessment) problem-solving methodology to develop problem-oriented policing plans. Examples include reducing demand in Stockport through ‘hotspot pulse policing’; reducing firework-related criminality within Tameside; and reducing commercial burglaries in targeted locations under Operation Guard. The force intends to hold an event in early 2019 to share learning from these EBP approaches. This should help the force to improve its ability to manage and reduce demand in local policing.
We found that officers and staff trained as EBP champions are using OSARA methodology. The force may wish to consider how this learning can be further developed across the whole organisation to improve crime prevention.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure the availability of Achieving Best Evidence-trained staff provides vulnerable victims with the necessary support.
- The force should ensure regular and active supervision of the quality and progress of investigations. This supervision should be properly recorded.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Greater Manchester Police recognises that it doesn’t currently have enough trained and accredited detectives to meet its demand. The force has plans in place to address this and has introduced an investigative capacity and capability board that will prioritise the filling of detective vacancies. In June 2018, there were 260 vacancies, but the figure had reduced to 150 at the time of our inspection. The force intends to put 141 officers through the Initial Crime Investigators Development Programme during the 2019/20 financial year.
The force is improving how it investigates crime. It has a crime standards improvement plan. This incorporates actions to address the areas for improvement we identified during our 2017 effectiveness inspection, including the effectiveness of evidence recovery at crime scenes. The detective chief inspector within each division chairs a local governance meeting to improve the standard of supervision of investigations. In addition, the force has taken steps to improve its approach to the national crime recording standard (NCRS), compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, rape investigation standards and compliance with the Professionalising Investigations Programme (PIP), the structured development programme for investigative skills for police officers and police staff.
The force also has a crime management policy which provides guidance on the allocation and investigation of crimes. The force operates a crime screening policy which considers viable lines of enquiry and public interest factors in determining whether a crime is investigated or screened out (that is, filed without further action). The decision on how to make progress with an investigation is taken by the force’s crime progression teams. During our inspection, we found examples of crimes that were finalised without investigation even though there were clear lines of enquiry that could have been followed up. Some of these included offences of domestic burglary. This means that victims of crime are potentially not receiving a satisfactory level of service.
During our fieldwork, we found some examples of crime-related incidents where due to other competing priorities the response had been delayed and resources had not been deployed to the scene. It was a common feature within these examples that opportunities for effective evidence gathering during the ‘golden-hour’ period were hampered or lost altogether. Prior to our fieldwork, we carried out a crime file review of 89 investigations that were randomly selected from a three month period and found that some victims had disengaged from the police because of what were, in some cases, long delays in attending the original incident. It was also the case that some callers were not kept sufficiently informed or notified about the delays in response. Of these 89 investigations ,we found that effective or appropriate supervision was evident in 60 of them. We identified this as an area for improvement following our 2017 effectiveness inspection. This year, while there was evidence of directed supervision and review of ongoing investigations for more serious offences, we found that some lower-level offences had not had the same level of scrutiny. Despite this, in most cases that we examined we found that the investigation was effective and 71 out of 89 demonstrated good victim care. In three quarters of the investigations, 67 out of 89, all appropriate lines of enquiry were completed.
However, we did find some examples of investigations that had been inappropriately allocated to neighbourhood beat and patrol officers. Examples included serious assault offences within a prison, and an investigation relating to an organised crime group.
Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) investigators are trained specifically to support vulnerable victims and witnesses. The force doesn’t have a clear process for assigning these trained staff to investigations where vulnerability is a factor. Rather, there is an informal arrangement in which officers send an email to find a volunteer to assist. The force needs to ensure that the availability of ABE-trained staff is appropriate to meet demand. It should also put in place a clear process so that vulnerable victims needing services receive crucial and prompt support. The force does pursue justice even when victims don’t support action. We found some examples where the use of body-worn video cameras meant that such cases resulted in a positive outcome.
The force needs to improve how it catches criminals and resolves investigations. Through its local and force daily management meetings (known as Pacesetter), it keeps an overview of the pursuit of wanted persons, focusing on risk and vulnerability. Officers are aware of the police national computer (PNC) circulation processes, and responsibility for investigating the crime stays with the officer. Officers can identify wanted persons within their area via the menu on the force’s computer system.
In the force’s local crime governance meetings, officers discuss suspects who are named as wanted on the PNC. These meetings provide scrutiny to ensure that such cases are promptly resolved by officers.
We found positive use of foreign national referrals processes to ACRO, with 2,784 referrals made in the last financial year. However, the force acknowledges that it doesn’t have a force-wide monitoring system to review the results of referrals made. This information is held within districts and there is no central overview of foreign-national offending.
When we spoke with agencies dealing with mental health, concerns were raised about the lack of police prosecutions where service users had assaulted the staff. The force may wish to review such cases and build understanding to ensure that officers are taking forward investigations appropriately.
The force’s use of pre-charge and post-charge bail, as well as released under investigation (RUI), are discussed at force level. We found that both pre-charge and post-charge bail, as well as RUI rates, remain relatively consistent with 2017. The criminal justice team provides some dip sampling of bail timeliness on a risk basis. The force is currently revising its bail policy to include RUI and intends to take steps to ensure that records are closed promptly. Numbers of open RUI records on the force’s custody and case management system that indicate a disposal decision – that is, an alternative to prosecution – are monitored and being addressed.
The criminal justice team also provides scrutiny of file quality, with data showing the number of satisfactory files and those where interventions have been needed to improve quality, this is being used to guide learning and improvement. The force also monitors and acts to reduce open crime records. We found that the number of open records has reduced from 28,000 in June 2018 to 22,500 at the time of inspection.
The force is aware of its responsibilities for disclosure and has trained 60 subject-matter experts to give basic training to officers and advanced disclosure training to detectives. We found some supervisors, both in uniform and in detective roles, had received disclosure training in the last 12 months, and there is an e-learning package which all officers must complete. There are plans to give additional training to the workforce before the end of this financial year, which is a positive step.
Outcome data for Greater Manchester Police shows that for 2017/18, action was taken in 8.5 percent of crimes – for example, a caution or charge. This is lower than the national rate of 14.6 percent, and lower than the rate observed in the force in 2017: 13.8 percent. But set against this is the fact that the force has made some progress in the accuracy of its crime recording and last year recorded an extra 70,000 crimes. This may in part explain the drop in positive action, but the force should ensure that it fully understands the reasons for the reduction in action taken for recorded crime and address any emerging issues.Summary for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cause of concern
Greater Manchester Police is failing to respond appropriately to some people who are vulnerable and at risk. This means that it is missing some opportunities to safeguard victims and secure evidence at the scene and victims are being put at risk.
Areas for improvement
- The force should implement its domestic abuse survey process without further delay.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Understanding and identifying vulnerability
Greater Manchester Police needs to improve some aspects of how it understands and identifies vulnerability. The force has a vulnerability board that oversees progress against its vulnerability action plans. These are linked to the seven strands of the national vulnerability plan, but we found that some, including the child sexual exploitation and human trafficking action plans, were only in draft form at the time of our inspection. The force uses a clear definition of vulnerability:
“A person may be vulnerable by reason of age and/or their circumstances, or who suffers from mental or physical disabilities, illness or other such special feature which renders them either permanently or temporarily unable to care for or protect themselves against harm or exploitation.”
During fieldwork, we found that officers and staff understood vulnerability and could describe it in their own words. There was some evidence that officers understood hidden harm and considered it when responding to incidents.
We visited each control room during our fieldwork. Staff use the STRIVE risk assessment model to identify vulnerability and prioritise responses to calls from the public. However, we found that use of this risk assessment model is only required for rape, other sexual offences and hate crime. It is left to the discretion of the call handler to use STRIVE for other calls, depending on the volume coming into the control room and gaps in staffing. This impairs the ability of call handlers to correctly identify all vulnerability at the first point of contact, to assess and record risk, and manage priorities effectively. We consider this to be a risk for the force. It should satisfy itself that it understands at first point of contact all aspects of a person’s potential vulnerability, so the risk is understood and managed effectively.
The force has recently introduced a vulnerability support unit into the operational communications branch at Claytonbrook, but this hasn’t yet been evaluated. The unit provides supporting activity for incidents relating to missing people and mental health. The force is planning to expand the role of the unit to include all incidents that have a vulnerability, domestic abuse or child abuse marker, irrespective of the nature of the incident. We believe this is a positive step that will help the force to understand any vulnerability that is not evident at first contact, and to support better management of demand. Staff we spoke to were not aware of the unit’s role. The force may wish to consider how it can more effectively promote the vulnerability support unit to its officers and staff, to build strength in the assessment of and response to, vulnerability.
Greater Manchester Police has a grading system to prioritise response to incoming calls, each with its own target time. Grade 1 emergency calls should be attended within 15 minutes, Grade 2 priority calls within 1 hour, Grade 3 routine responses within 4 hours, Grade 4 scheduled calls within 48 hours and Grade 5 calls resolved at first point of contact by telephone. We found that supervisors use STRIVE to downgrade some incidents initially graded as emergency and priority calls that are not responded to within the required response times. Some STRIVE assessments were found to be lacking in detail. There was also evidence that some re-assessments had been made without additional background information. During October 2018, a total of 2,090 Grade 2 priority calls and 3,109 Grade 3 routine calls were downgraded to Grade 4. We found that there was no clear governance, audit or rational for these decisions. The force needs to be satisfied that when incidents are downgraded, the decision to do so is based on thorough risk assessment.
Responding to incidents
Greater Manchester Police doesn’t respond quickly enough to all incidents involving vulnerable people to keep them safe. We conducted fieldwork within the force control rooms and found that many logs showed a delayed response, due to the level of demand and resources available to attend.
Data we examined for September 2018 showed that for Grade 1 incidents, all but one district met the 15-minute target response time. However, the average response time for Grade 2 incidents exceeded the target, with attendance times ranging from four hours and 36 minutes in Bolton to eight hours 58 minutes for Tameside. These incidents should be responded to within one hour.
Our snapshot of open incidents for one day showed 282 out of 811 had vulnerability markers. Of these, 98 had been graded as Grade 4 scheduled calls. There were 42 domestic abuse calls designated as Grade 4 even though it is force policy to grade response to domestic abuse calls no lower than Grade 2. The force can upgrade or downgrade incidents depending on any risk posed to the victim. However, it has limited data, and without context, it is difficult to identify the number of domestic abuse calls that were either escalated or downgraded. This raises concern about how effectively the force is responding to calls involving vulnerable people, the impact upon safeguarding and preventing further harm, as well as ‘golden-hour’ investigations. Our crime file review found similar issues with some incidents involving vulnerability being downgraded to be resolved without deployment of a resource.
Domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, and honour-based violence (DASH) risk assessments are not completed until an officer attends a call for service. This means that for some calls, there is a delay in providing detailed understanding of the risk posed to a victim and there is potential for safeguarding to be missed.
The problem of delay is compounded by the practice of keeping some incidents open for supervisor administrative purposes after they have been attended. The limitations of the force command and control system create difficulties for dispatchers in understanding what is a ‘live’ call for response and what is an open incident that has been attended. We saw that each incident must be opened in turn to determine whether action has been taken and if the incident needs resourcing. This means that victims may be being put at risk through unnecessary and avoidable delays in attending some calls. The force needs to review its processes to ensure that it manages open incidents appropriately.
Officers and staff can show whether they’re committed, or free for deployment to incidents, using status codes which are visible to operational communications branch operators. We found that some officers and staff may be using the ‘State 8’ code (unavailable to be deployed to incidents) inappropriately. This means that fewer resources can be deployed, delaying the response to incidents in these cases. The force is aware of these issues and is taking steps to address and improve resource management.
We found that when officers attend incidents they mostly identify vulnerability, where present, and it features within the standardised investigation plan template for crime investigations. We found positive evidence that DASH and vulnerability risk assessments were completed where required. During our inspection, we examined several DASH risk assessments completed by officers. We established that these were thorough, and they contained relevant information and initial safeguarding actions, including the ‘voice of the child’.
Our contact with public protection investigation units and multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH) showed they had confidence in the ability of officers to complete thorough risk assessments for domestic abuse and other referrals. Greater Manchester Police is reviewing the DASH process to further improve its service to vulnerable victims and will be trialling alternative approaches during this year. There should be governance control for these pilots through the force’s overarching vulnerability board, but the force will need to provide clear messages to staff to ensure that the differing approaches are understood.
The force introduced mental health practitioners into the operational communications branch in August 2018. These are based within the vulnerability support unit. The team has access to NHS computer systems across the three Greater Manchester mental health trusts and now provides a 24-hour triage service of mental health incidents across the force area for officers. This should mean the force is better placed to prioritise vulnerability and respond to calls for service in the future. Early indications are that this approach is reducing demands on patrol officers.
Officers and supervisors told us that positive action is expected when dealing with domestic abuse cases, but currently the arrest rate doesn’t reflect this. The force has also engaged with partner organisations to introduce Operation Encompass, enabling the sharing of information about domestic abuse cases with schools and support for safeguarding.
Supporting vulnerable victims
The force supports vulnerable victims well. It uses some neighbourhood resources, particularly PCSOs who conduct follow-up reassurance visits, to ensure the continued safeguarding of vulnerable and repeat victims. We found a good understanding of continued safeguarding responsibilities in domestic abuse cases. Officers showed us a booklet that they use to provide victims with useful contact details for partner support agencies.
We found that officers were aware of and considered using domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) and domestic violence protection notices (DVPNs) while investigating domestic abuse, particularly where the victim was not supporting a prosecution. We found that these orders are recorded locally, but it was not clear how this process supported or directed active monitoring of breaches. The force has data for the number of breaches for DVPOs and DVPNs. There were 126 breaches from 594 DVPOs and 18 breaches from 629 DVPNs in the 12 months to 31 March 2018. Overall, Greater Manchester shows good use of DVPOs, with an increase in numbers obtained compared to last year. Breach rates remain consistent with the levels we found in our 2017 effectiveness inspection.
The force also responds effectively to requests for disclosure under Clare’s Law, and we found evidence of it proactively seeking opportunities within the early help and safeguarding hub (EHASH) and MASH arrangements to disclose.
MASH arrangements don’t follow a consistent model across the ten districts in the force, due to differing levels of engagement from partner agencies. The force may benefit from sharing the learning from the practice seen by inspectors within the EHASH at Rochdale. This appeared to be an effective arrangement for managing risk both within and outside core hours, and for engagement with partners. We are aware that, following implementation of the investigation safeguarding review, police safeguarding resources for Manchester City District will be based in three MASHs rather than one. This will mean that adult social care will no longer be co-located in each of the three multi-agency teams within that district.
In all but one district, Greater Manchester Police has clear processes in place to refer all high-risk domestic abuse cases to a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC). We found a local process had been introduced in the MASH at Wigan which means not all high-risk cases were referred to a MARAC, other than new or externally referred cases. We highlighted this to the force during our inspection and we are pleased to learn that the force has already made a local change to address this issue. We found that there are some backlogs in medium-risk domestic abuse queues within MASH arrangements. The force needs to assure itself that referrals are not being missed through these delays.
Officers within the public protection investigation units have processes to refer cases that are considered ‘away from home’ to the relevant outside police force and to children’s services to ensure continued safeguarding. The force participates in Operation Encompass and we found that some neighbourhood beat officers we spoke to were aware of their role and responsibilities in relation to this. We found a positive and recent example of how this had been used to safeguard a child in a domestic abuse situation.
The force works well with partner organisations. It is working with agencies and volunteers to safeguard vulnerable people and prevent fraud through ‘Scam Busters’. We found several examples where multi-agency operations had been effective in safeguarding people at risk of criminal exploitation. Project Challenger, a multi-agency programme tackling serious and organised crime, has put in place a campaign called ‘Trapped’, using social media to raise awareness of the criminal exploitation of young and vulnerable people.
The force has plans for a domestic abuse victim feedback survey. This was identified as an area for improvement in our 2017 effectiveness inspection, but hasn’t yet been implemented. We found local arrangements for victims of child sexual exploitation to provide feedback via the Sunrise team in Rochdale, as well as for victims of hate crime. The force needs to consider how it can gather feedback from other vulnerable victims to help shape its future response to all victims.
The force uses the active risk management system and Risk Matrix 2000 for the management of registered sex offenders. We found the force applies robust scrutiny to registered sex offenders. At the time of inspection, there were 1,348 registered sex offenders awaiting assessment within Greater Manchester. The force had clear data to show the current position with completion of assessments. We found that 796 of these offenders were in prison, with a number either living abroad or in psychiatric units. In total, 200 people are awaiting assessment whilst living in the community, with Greater Manchester Police being the lead agency in 30 of these cases. Staff consider additional or ancillary orders for offender management and reported positive relationships with the force’s legal services in applying for orders.
The force is proactive in managing its registered sex offenders, has support for surveillance, where appropriate, and uses the expertise of its digital investigation team to enhance visits. It is also piloting polygraph testing, which has given positive intelligence to inform risk. The force has judged 650 registered sex offenders suitable for reactive management. There is monthly dip sampling of these offenders, with unannounced visits and polygraph testing in these cases. We found that there is effective management and scrutiny applied to high-risk offenders.
The force uses specialised software to identify peer-to-peer sharing of indecent images of children. It has processes in place to review the system on a weekly basis. We found there is oversight of the triaging and allocation of intelligence and investigations, and a review process to ensure that where risk factors change, prioritisation is further considered. At the time of our visit, there were only six unallocated cases, all of which had been triage-assessed as low-risk.
Most neighbourhood patrol and beat officers could find information relating to registered sex offenders on computer systems. But we found that they were not necessarily aware of those people being within their area, unless briefing information was shared.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Understanding the threat and responding to it
Greater Manchester Police has an adequate understanding of the potential harm facing the public. Its APSTRA conforms to the requirements of the code and the College of Policing guidance. The APSTRA is published annually and is accompanied by a register of risks and other observations. The designated chief officer reviews the register frequently to maintain the right levels of armed capability and capacity.
All armed officers in England and Wales are trained to national standards. There are different standards for each role that armed officers perform. The majority of armed incidents in Greater Manchester Police are attended by officers trained to an armed response vehicle (ARV) standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.
We found that Greater Manchester Police has good arrangements in place to mobilise specialist officers should their skills be required. The force has sufficient specialist capabilities in line with the threats and risks identified in its APSTRA.
As a consequence of the terrorist threat, Greater Manchester Police has received Home Office funding as part of a programme to boost armed policing in certain parts of England and Wales. We established that the force has fulfilled its commitment to the programme by increasing the availability of ARVs.
One area where the force could improve is the briefing of ARV officers when they report for duty. It is important that, at the start of each shift, they are provided with up-to-date information that is relevant to their role. They can have a positive effect in disrupting the activity of organised crime groups and other armed criminals.
At present, opportunities are being missed to provide this information to ARV officers and use their patrols to good effect. However, we recognise that action is being taken to address this.
Working with others
It is important that effective joint working arrangements are in place between neighbouring forces. Armed criminals and terrorists have no respect for county boundaries. As a consequence, armed officers must be prepared to deploy flexibly in the knowledge that they can work seamlessly with officers in other forces. It is also important that any one force can call on support from surrounding forces in times of heightened threat.
This is an area where Greater Manchester Police performs well. It has sufficient ARV officers and specialist capabilities in line with the threats set out in the APSTRA. It also has tried and tested procedures to work with neighbouring forces on joint armed operations.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Greater Manchester Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, the force has an important role in designing training exercises with other organisations that simulate these types of attack. We found that these training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are recorded and improvements made for the future.
In addition to debriefing training exercises, we also found that Greater Manchester Police reviews the outcome of all firearms incidents that officers attend. This helps ensure that best practice or areas for improvement are identified. We also found that this knowledge is used to improve training and operational procedures.Summary for question 5