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Losing 2,000 officers was difficult to manage former GMP chief says


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Arena bombing inquiry told austerity cuts 'had an impact' on force which had to rapidly reorganise.

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Losing 2,000 officers was difficult to manage former GMP chief says
Date - 16th July 2021
By - Police Oracle

The background of a 24 per cent cut in staff from 2011 to 2017 in GMP “took a huge amount out of the organisation” the force’s former chief constable Ian Hopkins has told the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing.

Mr Hopkins said he did not believe the reductions affected the immediate response, particularly from frontline officers, but did make a difference in terms of updating policies and the loss of  leadership posts.

He said GMP was required to make £200 million in savings due to austerity from 2011 up to the period of the attack in May 2017, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds.

Mr Hopkins said: “What that meant in real terms was the loss of 2,000 officers from Greater Manchester Police, a number of policing staff and then subsequently PCSOs. Over that period of time it was actually a 24% reduction in officers, compared to a 14% reduction as an average in England and Wales.

“The whole focus for sort of the five years up to 2017 was about trying to reorganise the organisation and deal with the impact of losing that many staff. It’s the energy of trying to reorganise, reassess service levels and continue business as normal with different demands coming in and a changing nature of crime in terms of cybercrime, things like digital forensic submissions … it took a huge amount out of the organisation.”

The public inquiry into the suicide bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert has heard that ambulance and fire personnel could not get through to the phone line of GMP’s force duty officer, the initial commander of the incident, to find out more information about the incident.

Fire crews did not arrive until more than two hours after the explosion and only three paramedics entered the City Room foyer, the scene of the blast, as members of the public, police and arena staff transported casualties on makeshift stretchers.

Asked to comment on whether a link could be made with the swingeing cuts to police failures on the night, Mr Hopkins said: “I think not in terms of the immediate response on the night because I would still say there were some really impressive elements of that, particularly from our frontline staff.

“But I think in terms of some of the background that’s been discussed in this inquiry around policy and policies being updated, and the speed of which change was brought about, I absolutely think that has had an impact.

“We had to take out large numbers of staff. We were not able to recruit new officers, which is why we came down by about 2,000 but that also meant the loss of leadership posts across the force.”

Mr Hopkins stepped down from his post in December after Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham asked him to resign in the wake of a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), which stated the force had failed to record 80,000 crimes.

Before he started to give his evidence, Mr Hopkins addressed the bereaved families as he said: “I have met many of you in person, not all of you but many, and I listened to the hopes, dreams and aspirations that you had for your loved ones and how they were ripped away from you. I also saw your immense grief. All that will never leave me.

“I and my colleagues responded on May 22 with the absolute intention of doing our very best in the most challenging of circumstances. In many ways we achieved that but I absolutely recognise that we did not always achieve our best.”

Mr Hopkins will continue to give evidence next week.

The inquiry was adjourned until Monday.

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It was also revealed that, on his behalf, his deputy Rob Pilling sent a misleading letter to the enquiry which Hopkins had to back track on. 

It was evident that there was little , if any criticism. of the officers on the ground front line. The criticism was about the Command from the Control room to the Gold.  They are now clutching at straws to deflect some of the criticism.

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