Our inspection assessed how good Greater Manchester is in 12 areas of policing. We make graded judgments in 11 of these 12, as follows:
We also inspected how effective a service Greater Manchester Police gives to victims of crime. We don’t make a graded judgment in this overall area.
We set out our detailed findings about things the force is doing well and where the force should improve in the rest of this report.
Important changes to PEEL
In 2014, we introduced our police efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy (PEEL) inspections, which assess the performance of all 43 police forces in England and Wales. Since then, we have been continuously adapting our approach and during the past year we have seen the most significant changes yet.
We are moving to a more intelligence-led, continual assessment approach, rather than the annual PEEL inspections we used in previous years. For instance, we have integrated our rolling crime data integrity inspections into these PEEL assessments. Our PEEL victim service assessment will now include a crime data integrity element in at least every other assessment. We have also changed our approach to graded judgments. We now assess forces against the characteristics of good performance, set out in the PEEL Assessment Framework, and we more clearly link our judgments to causes of concern and areas for improvement. We have also expanded our previous four-tier system of judgments to five tiers. As a result, we can state more precisely where we consider improvement is needed and highlight more effectively the best ways of doing things.
However, these changes mean that it isn’t possible to make direct comparisons between the grades awarded this year with those from previous PEEL inspections. A reduction in grade, particularly from good to adequate, doesn’t necessarily mean that there has been a reduction in performance, unless we say so in the report.
HM Inspector’s observations
I recognise that Greater Manchester Police has faced a number of difficulties over the last year: the adverse findings from our victim service assessment; having its status raised from ‘scan’ to ‘engage’ as part of our monitoring regime;, and the potential instability that comes with a change of chief constable and senior leadership.
While this report outlines the concerns I have about the performance of Greater Manchester Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime, I am pleased with the progress that has been made in a short period of time since the force published its new long-term plan, Planning our future: Building a new GMP.
These are the findings I consider most important from our assessments of the force over the last year.
The force has improved its crime reporting
I am pleased to find that the force has improved its crime recording. It has introduced processes to make sure that crime recording is more accurate. This means that the force is now properly recording a substantial majority of the crimes reported by the public.
The force cannot respond to calls effectively and consistently
The force cannot routinely respond to emergency and priority incidents in the timescales it has set. It needs to improve the way it manages initial calls so that vulnerable people are identified when crimes and incidents are reported. The force fails to adequately and regularly reassess the volume of calls to prioritise the most vulnerable. The force had significant backlogs of incidents awaiting a police response. An accelerated cause of concern was raised with the force at the time and our findings were published early. Since then, the force has made significant progress in reducing the backlogs.
The force must get better at investigating reported crimes
The force needs to improve how it investigates crimes. Some investigations lack a structured plan and appropriate supervision to help the investigation follow lines of enquiry in a timely and proportionate way. The investigations should be carried out in a proportionate, thorough and prompt way to provide satisfactory results for victims.
The force needs to improve how it is building, developing and looking after its workforce
The force needs to improve the way it supports its workforce. In too many areas it doesn’t proactively maintain or promote the well-being of its staff. Workload is high and the force regularly uses overtime to manage demand. This means its workforce is potentially fatigued, adversely affecting the work-life balance of staff. Not having resources in the right place to manage demand and not providing the tools to sustain the productivity of its workforce creates frustrations.
The force is developing how it plans and manages organisational efficiency
The force is undergoing significant change and restructuring as part of the chief constable’s long-term plans. He is aware of the inefficiencies in the organisational management, which have resulted in the workforce being unable to meet demand. The force’s clear direction and long-term plan will take time to develop and bring about the changes needed but I have already begun to notice some improvements.
My report sets out the fuller findings of this inspection. The challenges facing Greater Manchester Police shouldn’t be underestimated but I am optimistic that the trajectory and pace of improvement will continue this year. I will continue to closely monitor the force’s progress.
HM Inspector of Constabulary
Reducing crime assessment
We have identified seven themes underpinning a force’s ability to reduce crime effectively which, taken together, allow an assessment of the extent to which the force is doing all it can to reduce crime. This is a narrative assessment, as police recorded crime figures can be affected by variations and changes in recording policy and practice, making it difficult to make comparisons over time.
Greater Manchester Police has some processes in place to access and analyse data from its police work to identify areas where crime needs to be reduced. More could be done to understand the strategic risks and to see what measures are needed to control those risks. The force has invested in its neighbourhood policing resources and problem-solving; however, this is inconsistent across the force’s districts. Problem-solvers are frequently abstracted (i.e. diverted to duties that are not part of the problem-solver’s principal duties, not necessarily emergencies, for an extended period, possibly weeks) to support other areas of policing.
Other factors contributing to the force’s ability to reduce crime are:
- significant improvement in how it records crime;
- the integrated offender management programme;
- diversion activities to prevent young people from becoming involved in crime; and
- its consistent approach to multi-agency risk assessment arrangements that support safeguarding.
I am pleased that the force is addressing the right areas of policing to reduce crime.
But the following areas may negatively affect the force’s ability to reduce crime:
- Call handlers don’t consistently use THRIVE to prioritise the force’s response to incidents.
- Officers are unable to attend incidents promptly to secure evidence at the scene.
- The force doesn’t investigate crimes effectively, so some offenders escape justice and victims don’t get the service they deserve.
- The force doesn’t have sufficient capacity and capability in its investigation teams to meet demand.
- Too often, dedicated neighbourhood officers are abstracted to support response policing teams. This affects the force’s ability to build effective relationships with people and solve problems in the community.
Until the force improves how it responds to incidents and investigates crime it will not be able to effectively reduce crime.
Performance in context
As part of our continuous assessment of police forces, we analyse a range of data to explore performance throughout all aspects of policing. In this section, we present data and analysis on some important findings from our assessment of the force over the past year. For more information on this data and analysis, please select the ‘About the data’ section below.
Greater Manchester Police had a crime severity score of 19 for all crimes recorded in the year ending 31 March 2021. This was the second highest score across forces in England and Wales. Crime severity scores tell us the amount of harm caused to society by crime for each force area. To calculate this score, all crimes recorded in a force are given different weightings based on their severity. More serious crimes have higher weightings and less serious crimes have lower weightings.
Crime severity scores for forces in England and Wales for year ending 31 March 2021
Caution is needed with Greater Manchester Police’s crime severity score for the year ending 31 March 2021 due to the findings from victim service assessments for the force. For a review of records from April to June 2020, we estimated that the force was recording 77.7 percent of reports of crime (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.2 percent). As such, the force’s true crime severity score for the year ending 31 March 2021 may be higher than reported due to under-recording of crime in this period.
For the force’s most recent victim service assessment, we reviewed records from May to July 2021 and estimated that the force was recording 90.6 percent of reports of crime (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.8 percent).
Estimated recording accuracies by crime type for Greater Manchester Police
Greater Manchester Police has both severe and high crime demand. For offences recorded in the year ending 31 March 2021, only 8.5 percent resulted in action being taken. This is significantly below the average throughout forces in England and Wales of 14.4 percent.
Proportion of offences recorded in the year ending 31 March 2021 with action taken outcomes across forces
Proportion of Greater Manchester Police joiners (FTE) from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in the year ending 31 March 2021
For the year ending 31 March 2021, the proportion of police officers joining Greater Manchester Police from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds was slightly higher than the proportion of BAME individuals in the force area (16.8 percent of those who stated their ethnicity, compared to 16.2 percent). Should this positive recruitment rate continue, it will increase the force’s total proportion of police officers from BAME backgrounds, which was 9.3 percent as at 31 March 2021.
Providing a service to the victims of crime
Victim service assessment
This section describes our assessment of the service that victims receive from Greater Manchester Police, from the point of reporting a crime through to the outcome. As part of this assessment, we reviewed 165 case files as well as 20 cautions, community resolutions and cases where a suspect was identified but the victim did not support or withdrew support for police action. While this assessment is ungraded, it influences graded judgments in the other areas we have inspected.
The force is too slow to answer emergency and non-emergency calls and repeat or vulnerable victims aren’t always identified
When a victim contacts the police, it is important that their call is answered quickly and that the right information is recorded accurately on police systems. The caller should be spoken to in a professional manner. The information should be assessed, taking into consideration threat, harm, risk and vulnerability. And the victim should get appropriate safeguarding advice.
The force needs to improve the time it takes to answer emergency and non-emergency calls as it isn’t meeting national and force standards. When calls are answered, the victim’s vulnerability isn’t always assessed using a structured process and repeat victims aren’t always identified, which means this isn’t taken into account when considering the response the victim should be given. Not all victims are given crime prevention advice or advice on the preservation of evidence. This potentially leads to the loss of evidence that would support an investigation and misses the opportunity to help prevent further crimes against the victim.
The force doesn’t always respond to calls for service in a timely way
A force should aim to respond to calls for service within its published time frames, based on the prioritisation given to the call. It should change call priority only if the original prioritisation is deemed inappropriate, or if further information suggests a change is needed. The response should take into consideration risk and victim vulnerability, including information obtained after the call.
The force isn’t responding to calls within its published time frames on most occasions. On some occasions the delays in response are considerable. Victims aren’t updated about delays and their expectations aren’t met, which may cause victims to lose confidence and disengage. By failing to attend calls in an appropriate time frame, victims may be put at risk and evidence potentially can be lost.
The force has improved its crime recording
The force’s crime recording should be trustworthy. It should be effective at recording reported crime in line with national standards and have effective systems and processes, supported by the necessary leadership and culture.
The force has improved its crime recording to make sure crimes reported to the force are recorded correctly. The force has improved sufficiently to address the concerns we raised in our victim service inspection, published in December 2020.
We set out more detail about the force’s crime recording in the ‘crime data integrity’ section below.
The force allocates crimes to appropriate staff, and victims are promptly informed if their crime isn’t going to be investigated further
Police forces should have a policy to make sure crimes are allocated to appropriately trained officers or staff for investigation or, if appropriate, not investigated further. The policy should be applied consistently. The victim of the crime should be kept informed of the allocation and whether the crime is to be further investigated.
The arrangements for allocating recorded crimes for investigation are in accordance with the force’s policy and in most cases a crime is allocated to the most appropriate department for further investigation. Usually, victims are promptly informed that their reported crime will not be investigated further, where this is the case. It is important to provide victims with an appropriate level of service and to manage expectations.
The force isn’t always carrying out thorough and timely investigations, with victims not always being updated on the progress of their investigation
Police forces should investigate reported crimes quickly, proportionately and thoroughly. Victims should be kept updated about the investigation and the force should have effective governance arrangements to make sure investigation standards are high.
Investigations are sometimes not carried out in a timely manner and often relevant lines of enquiry aren’t followed up to completion. There is frequently a lack of effective supervision of investigations. This results in some investigations not being thorough or timely. Victims are potentially being let down and offenders aren’t being brought to justice. Victims aren’t always kept updated about the progress of the investigation, which can result in victims losing confidence in it. When domestic abuse victims withdrew their support for a prosecution, the force didn’t always consider the use of orders designed to protect victims, such as a domestic violence protection notice or Domestic Violence Protection Order. Obtaining such orders is an important method of safeguarding the victim from further abuse in the future.
Under the Victims’ Code of Practice there’s a requirement to conduct a needs assessment at an early stage to decide whether victims require additional support. The result of the assessment and the request for additional support should be recorded. The force isn’t always completing the victim needs assessment, which means that not all victims will get the appropriate level of service.
The force finalises reports of crimes appropriately but sometimes fails to consult the victims for their views or record these views
The force should make sure it follows national guidance and rules for deciding the outcome of each report of crime. In deciding the outcome, the force should consider the nature of the crime, the offender and the victim. And the force should show the necessary leadership and culture to make sure the use of outcomes is appropriate.
In appropriate cases, offenders who are brought to justice can be dealt with by means of a caution or community resolution. To be correctly applied and recorded, it must be appropriate for the offender, and the views of the victim must be taken into consideration. In most of the cases reviewed, the offender met the national criteria for the use of these outcomes, but the victim’s views were sometimes not sought or considered. Where a suspect is identified but the victim doesn’t support, or withdraws support for, police action, the force should have an auditable record to confirm the victim’s decision so that it can close the investigation. Evidence of the victim’s decision was absent in some cases that were reviewed. This represents a risk that victims’ wishes may not be fully represented and considered before the crime is finalised.
Crime data integrity
Greater Manchester Police is adequate at recording crime. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
We estimate that Greater Manchester Police is recording 90.6 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.8 percent) of all reported crime (excluding fraud). This is a statistically significant improvement compared to the findings of our 2020 inspection. However, we estimate that this means the force still didn’t record over 32,400 crimes for the year covered by our inspection. Its performance is worse for offences of violence against the person. We estimate that 87.4 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.6 percent) of violent offences are being recorded.
We estimate that compared to the findings of our 2020 inspection, the force has recorded an additional 44,700 crimes for the year covered by our inspection.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve how it collects diversity information from crime victims and use this to inform compliance with its duty to record and understand such data
The force’s data for victims of crime shows that age and gender are well recorded, ethnicity is less well recorded and other protected characteristics are not well recorded. The force should be collecting this information to understand the extent to which each protected group is affected by crime, how this differs from the extent to which those without the protected characteristics are affected, and whether a different response is needed for these victims.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its workforce’s understanding of anti-social behaviour and how it records anti-social behaviour incidents and crimes
The force isn’t always correctly recording crimes as a result of incidents of anti-social behaviour. Crimes such as harassment, criminal damage and public order offences are sometimes not recorded. Anti-social behaviour can have a significant effect on victims, especially if the behaviour is prolonged. Failure to record crimes means that victims are not receiving the support they need and offenders escape judicial proceedings.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force provides a service to the victims of crime.
The force needs to review the governance of its crime recording processes and the effect of this approach on other aspects of the victim service
The force has improved the oversight and scrutiny of its crime recording processes, which has led to an improvement in crime recording. But the force is sometimes recording crimes in excess of those required by the Home Office Counting Rules. This is creating unnecessary demand on other areas of policing, such as the force’s ability to respond to calls from the public and investigations. This results in staff carrying out unnecessary investigative enquiries, meaning that there is an increase in delays in carrying out necessary investigations.
The force needs to improve how it records violence offences
The force has improved how it records violent crime, but it still needs to improve further. Many of the violence offences that weren’t recorded were domestic abuse offences, which is a particular concern. When crimes weren’t recorded the force didn’t investigate the report of the crime and there was often no safeguarding to protect the victim. Domestic abuse victims often require substantial support in order to protect them from further abuse but they are deprived of this support if crimes aren’t recorded.
Behavioural crimes, such as harassment and stalking, aren’t always recorded. Victims of these types of offence are often vulnerable and the effect of these crimes is high, so it is important these crimes are recorded.
The force needs to improve how it records crimes against vulnerable victims
The force has improved how it records crimes against vulnerable victims, but it needs to improve further. Some of the crimes missed were crimes of a serious nature, such as threats to kill, distribution of indecent images and child neglect. When the crime isn’t recorded there is often no investigation and sometimes no safeguarding of the victim. Failure to record these crimes can result in perpetrators not being identified or brought to justice.
The force records rape offences effectively
The force has continued to record rape offences well and has improved the recording of all sexual offences. We found that an estimated 96.5 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.3 percent) of sexual offences reported to the force were recorded. Rape is one of the most serious crimes a victim can experience. Therefore, it is especially important that crimes are recorded accurately to make sure victims receive the service and support they expect and deserve.
Recording data about crime
Greater Manchester Police is adequate at recording crime.
Accurate crime recording is vital to providing a good service to the victims of crime. We inspected crime recording in Greater Manchester as part of our victim service assessments (VSAs). These track a victim’s journey from reporting a crime to the police, through to the outcome.
All forces are subject to a VSA within our PEEL inspection programme. In every other inspection forces will be assessed on their crime recording and given a separate grade.
You can see what we found in the ‘Providing a service to victims of crime’ section of this report.
Engaging with and treating the public with fairness and respect
Greater Manchester Police requires improvement at treating people fairly and with respect. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve how well it consistently works with all its diverse communities to understand and respond to what matters to them
While the force does work with its communities at a local level, it could do more to understand what matters to them and incorporate those concerns into its priorities. The force has a dedicated neighbourhood policing team that works with the communities of Greater Manchester. There are inconsistencies in how community and neighbourhood priorities are decided. Often priorities are set by the police with limited community engagement or influence to understand what matters to the communities.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve its understanding of how officers use force and use this knowledge to make improvements
We found that officers significantly under-report their use of force. This may suggest that police officers may be more inclined to record the use of force on a person who is from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic background. During our inspection, the force sought to increase officer compliance with the requirement to record the use of force, and compliance has increased. The force currently doesn’t have enough data to effectively understand its use of force, meaning that it isn’t able to adequately understand how it can try to improve the way in which it uses force.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to treating people fairly and with respect.
The force understands how to treat the public with fairness and respect
Officers are aware of how to treat the public with fairness and respect but often feel frustrated at the timeliness and level of service they can provide. The force has provided specialist training to its workforce through its ‘Think Victim’ campaign. Furthermore, some specialist communication and unconscious bias training has been provided to the workforce through student officer training and leadership training. This training could be further developed for more of the workforce.
The force is improving its fair use of stop and search powers
The force provides stop and search training to student officers and provides updates on changes in legislation or practice. Most officers said that they were confident to use stop and search.
At district performance meetings and at force level, the force reviews its use of stop and search. These reviews assess the quality of stop and search, including the recorded reasonable grounds and the supervision of stop and search encounters. A chief officer chairs a Disproportionality in Policing meeting, which reviews the analysis of policing tactics to better understand and seek to improve stop and search and use of force.
The force’s officers conducted 11,748 stop and searches in the year ending 31 March 2021. The force told us that this was an increase from the previous year. During our inspection, we examined a sample of 267 records of stop and search undertaken between 1 January and 31 December 2020. Based on this sample, we estimate that 90.3 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.5 percent) of stop and searches carried out by the force during this period had reasonable grounds. This is a statistically significant improvement since our review the previous year when we found that 77.6 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.6 percent) of stop and searches had reasonable grounds. We also looked at a selection of body-worn video recordings from stop and search encounters. These showed that most searches were of a good standard.
The force seeks external feedback on its use of stop and search
The force published its Achieving Race Equality report in July 2021, which reviewed the disproportionality of stop and search along with the positive criminal justice outcome rates and find rates for stop and search. The force is also exploring other ways to better understand how the workforce is using stop and search. One way in which it is doing this is through independent external scrutiny. Each district has scrutiny panels, consisting of community members, to review the force’s use of stop and search and to provide feedback. Another way is the force’s work with the Manchester Youth Justice services to seek the views and experience of young people. While the external scrutiny needs time to mature, it is a positive step towards the force better understanding and improving the way the workforce uses stop and search.
The force continues to work towards the additional recommendations identified for all forces as part of the national thematic inspection, A spotlight on stop and search and the use of force.
Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour
Greater Manchester Police requires improvement at prevention and deterrence. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Areas for improvement
The force has yet to fully address the Areas for Improvement relating to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour identified in its 2019 PEEL inspection.
The force should review how it directs frontline neighbourhood staff to make sure that they are properly deployed
The force published its Neighbourhood Policing plan in February 2021, although neighbourhood policing teams had limited knowledge and understanding of the plan.
The force has a neighbourhood policing model that connects neighbourhood teams to district wards. However, the force is unable to prioritise the prevention of crime, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability due to the high levels of response that policing demands. Neighbourhood police officers aren’t able to work consistently in their designated wards because the force doesn’t ensure that they are consistently available. The force needs to provide clear direction as to what it wishes to achieve with those who are dedicated to supporting communities through neighbourhood policing.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its use of problem-solving, with a structured and effective model to identify and analyse crime and anti-social behaviour problems that neighbourhood teams and other organisations can work to prevent
The force is inconsistent in how it researches both police data and data from other organisations to help it analyse its demand and to then effectively use problem-solving to support it in achieving results or reductions.
The force’s ability to engage in problem-solving is hindered by the high abstraction rates of neighbourhood officers to support response policing. (‘Abstraction’ means diversion to duties that are not part of the officer’s core duties, not necessarily emergencies, for an extended period, possibly weeks.) This means that the effective use of problem-solving was found to be inconsistent across the policing districts. Neighbourhood officers said that they were being abstracted up to 75 percent of the time to support response teams in attending calls for service. As a result, they aren’t able to undertake crime reduction and prevention activities, including problem-solving, in their designated communities. In some districts where officers weren’t regularly being abstracted from their designated roles to support response patrols, we found some effective use of problem-solving, working in partnerships to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. However, there are inconsistencies in how problem-solving is recorded and supervised. The force doesn’t have a process to evaluate and share the results of its problem-solving activity.
Areas for improvement
The force should ensure that it has an abstraction policy to protect neighbourhood policing activity and that it is adhered to, with abstraction rates monitored
The force plans to monitor the abstraction of neighbourhood officers from their neighbourhood policing role; however, at the time of the inspection this wasn’t being carried out. There are significant numbers of neighbourhood officers being regularly abstracted to support response policing teams. The force is aware that this is having an adverse effect on their ability to prevent and deter crime.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to prevention and deterrence.
The force has a limited understanding of the demand facing its neighbourhood policing teams and struggles to meet this demand
The force has a limited understanding of the demand on its neighbourhood teams. Since the last inspection the force has invested in its neighbourhood teams, providing problem-solving training to help them in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. However, police community support officers are providing neighbourhood policing in isolation, because neighbourhood officers are spending more time supporting colleagues as they carry out response policing.
The force seeks to identify those in communities who create high levels of demand on police resources and frequently call for police service. This information is used to support neighbourhood teams in tackling the issues causing such high demand, through problem-solving. The force threshold for identifying callers as high demand is 30 calls per month. This is very high. The force may wish to review how it identifies high-demand callers and uses problem-solving to resolve problems arising in a community at an earlier stage. This would reduce the high demand it experiences.
Neighbourhood police make little use of the dedicated support team
The force has a dedicated central team to support the force in preventing and deterring crime and anti-social behaviour. The team includes staff who work with organisations and communities that collaborate with the force. However, we found that district neighbourhood policing teams had very little knowledge that this dedicated resource existed and very few had sought to use the team’s experience and skills in support of district problem-solving to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
Responding to the public
Greater Manchester Police is inadequate at responding to the public. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Areas for improvement
The force should ensure that call takers give appropriate advice on the preservation of evidence and on crime prevention
We found that advice on crime prevention wasn’t always provided: in only 32 out of 50 cases reviewed had advice been given to callers. Advice on the preservation of evidence was provided in only 16 out of 27 cases reviewed. This means that the force is losing opportunities to preserve evidence, which will greatly assist investigations, and to provide victims with advice to prevent further crime, therefore reducing repeat victimisation.
Progress on causes of concern regarding ‘responding to the public’
We have already published our findings in relation to ‘responding to the public’ as an accelerated cause of concern on 30 September 2021:
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. This enduring service failure has given cause for concern about public safety in Greater Manchester.
Greater Manchester Police has responded well to the identified cause of concern, taking immediate action to improve its response to the public and developing a longer-term plan that seeks to ensure that improvements are lasting.
It immediately declared the cause of concern as a critical incident and developed a tactical plan to increase the capacity of resources to reduce its backlogs of outstanding incidents. It arranged National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) peer support, which provided the force with recommendations. There is increased leadership oversight of the critical incident and activities have been put in place to make improvements. The force is updating its ageing vehicle fleet, ordering an additional 164 patrol cars to help its response policing team get to incidents. As a result of the tactical plan and the improvement activities put in place by the force, the incident backlogs have been reduced by more than 50 percent within four weeks of the publication of the cause of concern.
The longer-term plan includes increasing the workforce in the force’s Operational Communications Branch (OCB) and introducing a performance framework to support OCB staff and increase productivity. A review of the force’s graded response policy and a review of the capability and capacity of its response policing function are now being done.
We will continue to monitor the force’s progress against the identified cause of concern and recommendations.
Greater Manchester Police is inadequate at investigating crime. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Cause of concern
The force does not investigate crime, supervise investigations or update victims to an acceptable standard
Greater Manchester Police should, within three months, make sure that:
- officers investigate crimes in a timely manner, and investigation plans are completed at an early stage to give direction and establish lines of enquiry;
- investigations are actively and regularly supervised to check progress and to check that all proportionate lines of enquiry are pursued;
- victims are regularly updated in line with the Victims’ Code of Practice;
- victim personal statements are offered when appropriate and recorded; and
- the force pursues evidence-led prosecutions when a victim withdraws support for the investigation.
During the inspection, we audited a number of investigations. Victims aren’t seeing enough positive results and offenders brought to justice. For offences recorded in the year ending 31 March 2021, only 8.5 percent resulted in action being taken. This is significantly below the average across forces in England and Wales of 14.4 percent.
The quality of some investigations is not to an acceptable standard, which affects victims who report crimes to the force. Reasonable lines of enquiry were followed in only 70 of the 105 investigations reviewed. We found that some investigations didn’t have an investigation plan setting out directions and establishing the lines of inquiry to be pursued. For those investigations with an investigation plan we found that they consisted of a list of activities or actions completed by the investigator rather than a plan to progress the investigation and identify and secure evidence to achieve a positive result. When we did find a supervisor’s endorsement on an investigation, the supervisor didn’t always comment on the quality of the investigation or actions taken by the investigator.
Too many investigations aren’t progressed at an acceptable rate. The audit found that only 70 of 105 investigations reviewed were conducted in a timely manner.
In many cases, victims are not updated on the progress of an investigation. If a victim withdraws their support for the investigation, evidence-led prosecutions are rarely considered so to protect the victim from further offences.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to make sure that victim needs assessments are completed and victims are provided with the appropriate service throughout the investigation and subsequent prosecution
Victim needs assessments are not always completed. These ensure that any special measures required by the victim are identified at an early stage of the investigation so that the victim receives the appropriate support.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve how it records victims’ decisions and their reasons for withdrawing support for investigations
An auditable record of a victim’s wishes, such as a signed statement, is rarely obtained. It’s important to obtain an auditable record to provide evidence for the victim’s wishes and understand the reasons why they don’t wish to support a prosecution.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force investigates crime.
The force is unable to consistently carry out quality investigations on behalf of victims and their families
The force is developing its governance and performance process for investigations. It has developed new quality assurance measures of performance to set clear objectives and standards for investigations. However, at the time of our inspection the force had many open investigations. We found that officers are overwhelmed with investigations while still responding to high levels of incidents. This means they have limited time to focus on the quality and consistency of investigations and bring offenders to justice.
The force is aware that the number of investigations is far too high and is seeking to reduce the number to a manageable level. It has decided that its investigating model of multiskilled officers isn’t effective. Instead, it is seeking to change how it allocates investigations to officers. This should ensure it can better manage the demand and improve the quality of investigations so that there are better results for victims of crime.
The force is developing its understanding of the crime demand it faces and what resources it needs to meet it effectively
Although the force has assessed its current challenges resulting from crime demand, the overall analysis could be improved as there is little indication that the force understands the reasons for the increase in crime.
The increase in the force’s crime recording, together with the chief constable’s commitment to investigate all crimes, means the force can reasonably predict an increase in demand. It has invested in prisoner processing units and desk-based investigators, which provide some resilience to meet the increase.
The number of detectives in the force is insufficient, a recognised national policing problem. At 31 March 2021, only 77 percent (1,242 of 1,605) of investigator posts were filled with an accredited investigator. The force has detective vacancies in CID teams, who manage the more serious and complex criminal investigations. It’ is aware of its gaps and is recruiting to increase capacity. It has recruited direct entry detectives, the first intake of whom was available to CID teams in November 2021. However, the force recognises that commitment from experienced detectives is needed to support new staff as they work towards their detective accreditation.
The records management system is creating inefficiencies
Officers told us that the records management IT system is creating inefficiencies in the management of criminal investigations and contributing to delays in both investigating crimes and supervising investigations. An audit of investigations found that important information can be stored in several locations. This means investigators and supervisors can waste time locating the information needed in support of an effective investigation or review.
Some investigations aren’t allocated appropriately
While our audit identified that most crimes were allocated appropriately according to the crime allocation policy, we did find occasions when inexperienced officers had been allocated investigations that were serious and complex, for example child neglect and complex fraud, which the officers didn’t have the experience to investigate effectively.
Protecting vulnerable people
Greater Manchester Police requires improvement at protecting vulnerable people. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its analysis of offending against the vulnerable and use this to understand the most vulnerable victims and offenders
The records management IT system doesn’t provide some of the data needed to support the analysis of offending and vulnerability. The use of flags and markers to indicate some types of vulnerability isn’t available to support the analysis of crimes, for example repeat domestic abuse and general vulnerability. The force should ensure that it has sufficient capability and capacity to interrogate and analyse its intelligence systems. This will help it identify and understand the extent and type of crime being committed against vulnerable people and give it the ability to produce profiles of the problems. This also will give the force a greater understanding of vulnerability and offending. The force doesn’t have up-to-date profiles to inform plans in relation to repeat victims and locations of offending.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure that protective powers, such as Domestic Violence Protection Orders and notices, are considered in all appropriate cases
To support the safeguarding of victims, investigators can seek to use ancillary orders to protect victims and keep perpetrators from contacting them. We found that investigations into stalking and domestic crime don’t regularly use ancillary orders, such as domestic violence protection notices, Domestic Violence Protection Orders or Stalking Protection Orders. We reviewed 15 stalking and harassment crimes: 6 of these had issues identified, leaving victims at risk. We also reviewed 15 domestic abuse crimes: 6 of these had issues identified, again leaving victims at risk.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure that its operating practices allow for all repeat and vulnerable victims to be identified, recorded and appropriately supported
The force may be missing opportunities to support repeat and vulnerable victims and reduce future demand by preventing victimisation. Vulnerability is considered at initial contact; however, identification of repeat or vulnerable victims isn’t always recorded or accessible in the IT systems.
- The force doesn’t have business intelligence capability to access crimes involving mental health concerns. This means it is possible that the force may not be identifying some incidents where mental health is a concern and identification rates may fall below what would be expected. Our ability to assess this has been impaired by the quality of the data provided by the force for the period 1 October 2019 to 30 June 2020. This will need to be reviewed when the appropriate data is available.
- The force command and control system can’t identify repeat callers or use flags to identify repeat domestic abuse.
- The force does not have business intelligence capability to access crimes involving general vulnerability.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force protects vulnerable people.
The force has some understanding of its vulnerability demand and the resources it needs
The force has undertaken a review of its vulnerability demand, as part of a project to review its response to investigating crimes involving vulnerable victims. The force recognises that a significant amount of vulnerability was encountered by its frontline officers, who didn’t necessarily have the training or experience to deal with complex vulnerability investigations. Having identified that more detectives were needed to re-introduce specialist vulnerability investigation teams, a programme was started to restructure how the force investigates crimes involving vulnerable victims.
In September 2021, the force restructured its district detective teams to include a general CID team for serious and complex investigations and a separate team of detectives to investigate offences with victims who are identified as vulnerable, such as child protection offences. However, when the teams were set up, the force’s ability to resource the teams meant that some districts used a hybrid approach and many don’t have the number of detectives to meet the requirements of the new structure. Nevertheless, the force intends to introduce additional teams to investigate vulnerable adult crimes when it has a sufficient number of detectives.
The force has effective governance for vulnerability
The force has a chief officer lead for vulnerability and a Public Protection Governance unit, which reviews policy, plans and force performance, thereby seeking to improve the force’s response to vulnerability. The governance unit holds a regular meeting, which brings together district vulnerability leads to examine, support and understand force performance. The unit undertakes a thematic quality assurance process, focusing on a different area of vulnerability each month, reviewing investigations and providing feedback to districts to improve performance. The unit arranges scheduled peer reviews whereby district safeguarding teams peer review other districts. Representatives from the governance unit, along with other organisations, attend the Greater Manchester Combined Authority strategic vulnerability meetings. They also meet with other relevant organisations, such as children’s services and the Crown Prosecution Service, to review plans and proactively improve the force’s response to vulnerability.
The force recognises the need for effective and continuous safeguarding for vulnerable people
The force has policies in place that supports round-the-clock safeguarding for vulnerable people. A referral process is in place to identify and refer either children at risk or vulnerable adults to triage teams who work as part of a multi-agency approach to safeguarding vulnerable people and victims. Information from the referral forms is shared with the most appropriate agency, such as children’s services, for effective safeguarding activity to take place.
The force has developed specialist teams that give support to cases involving vulnerability and safeguarding. A dedicated team is in place for managing child sexual exploitation cases and modern-day slavery.
The force is good at recognising and dealing with harm, including hidden harm
Officers and staff have received training in dealing with honour-based violence and other harm offences such as modern-day slavery. The force carries out a range of activities to identify cases relating to vulnerability and hidden harm.
The force has district-based complex safeguarding teams who work with other organisations to identify those children who may be vulnerable to being exploited or subjected to adverse childhood experiences. The teams also work with other organisations on prevention and education activities to divert children away from becoming vulnerable victims of crime. The teams work alongside social workers in their activities to support vulnerable children. The dedicated Sexual Crime Unit can gather online intelligence and evidence to identify incidences of online sexual abuse, generating proactive policing operations when required. Sex offender managers, who visit, interview and risk-assess registered sex offenders, use lie detection on offenders to identify crimes and safeguard children. The force told us that in 2020 this numbered 72 crimes and 524 children were safeguarded.
The force contributes to the effectiveness of multi-agency safeguarding hubs
The force has 12 multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs) throughout its districts. All are co-located with relevant organisations. When combined, they cover the whole force area. Officers and staff work together in effective partnership and disseminate information in a timely way to support safeguarding. Each MASH has broad representation from these organisations, although there is some variance regarding which organisations are represented in each MASH. The force is aware of the make-up and terms of reference for each and is working towards a consistent model.
Referrals from officers that are categorised as high risk are generally triaged within 24 hours. We found good examples of partnership working to safeguard victims. For example, one district has a daily high-risk domestic abuse safeguarding meeting, which was found to be effective. Information is disseminated with other relevant organisations and the meeting reviews the incident and history of the victim. During one observed meeting, these organisations had already been in contact with victims, gathered information and, where appropriate, contacted schools to arrange pastoral care for those children in abusive relationships.
The force contributes to the effectiveness of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs)
The force identified 61,228 domestic abuse incidents in the year ending 31 March 2021. This represents 21.5 incidents per 1,000 population in Greater Manchester, which is slightly higher than the rate throughout forces in England and Wales of 19.6 per 1,000 population (based on 42 forces). In the same year, the force discussed 10,710 cases at a MARAC. This is more than double the recommended number (4,380) for discussion, on the basis of the SafeLives recommendation of 40 cases per 10,000 women.
MARACs are well established within the force. They are held in each local authority area. The frequency of the meetings is dependent on each district and the referral rate for that area. Of the conferences we observed, we found good attendance and participation from statutory and non-statutory bodies, including social services, children’s services, housing and health organisations, and independent advisors on domestic and sexual violence. The conferences demonstrated active information sharing and activities to support the safeguarding of victims and families. The chair ensured that actions were recorded and tracked in the minutes of the meetings. The organisations we spoke to who had attended MARACs were positive about the officers and staff who attended the meetings and the plans produced to increase the safety of those victims discussed.
Managing offenders and suspects
Greater Manchester Police requires improvement at managing offenders and suspects. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Areas for improvement
The force should review its sex offender management policy and practice so that risk assessments are routinely undertaken and intelligence gathered to support assessments, and risk management plans are thorough and reviewed regularly, to mitigate or manage risks to the public
During our inspection we reviewed 12 records to see how well the force manages registered sex offenders in Greater Manchester, according to the force’s policy and national guidance. We found eight records to be inadequate, three to require improvement and only one to be of a good standard. These findings show the force has moved away from national good practice and doesn’t always follow its own policy.
Significant change in a sex offender’s life should prompt risk assessments. This should include when the force takes over the management of a case from another agency, like the probation service. The force policy needs to reflect this.
The policy also needs to give clearer guidance to staff on the benefits of regularly checking the Police National Database so that all intelligence and risks can be clearly understood and risk management plans effectively updated.
Clearer guidance is also needed for officers on how often risk management plans (RMPs) are to be completed and their responsibilities regarding reactively managed cases. Force policy doesn’t say how often RMPs are to be completed.
Areas for improvement
The force should review its capacity to maintain the volume of visits it requires to manage registered sex offenders living in the community
During our inspection we found backlogs in visits to registered sex offenders: the force told us it has 740 outstanding visits, which represent approximately two months of visits. The force had previously reviewed the ratio of offenders to offender managers. At 82 offenders to 1 manager, the ratio was higher than the nationally recognised ratio of 50 to 1. A request for additional resources to redress the balance had been approved by chief officers in January 2021. Yet, at the time of our inspection we found that not all of the agreed additional resources were in place.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force manages offenders and suspects.
The force has a process for dealing with outstanding suspects and offenders but it could do more to arrest them
While the force pursues outstanding suspects and offenders, the chief constable has expressed his concerns that the force is over-reliant on using voluntary attendance for suspects rather than arresting them according to the relevant necessity criteria. As a result, there has been a focus on improving how the force manages outstanding suspects and offenders more effectively to reduce offending and protect the public. The force is reopening custody facilities in support of this shift and to ensure that officers can process arrested offenders locally without the need for travel. In some districts the arrest rate has significantly increased as a result of this drive.
The force reviews and highlights outstanding suspects at daily management meetings, district performance meetings and quarterly performance meetings held in districts and branches. The force has a process in place for circulating details of offenders on the Police National Computer.
The force has a fugitives team tasked with locating and arresting the offenders who pose the greatest risk of severe harm to the community. Other offenders are discussed at district daily management meetings to ensure that officers are tasked with arresting them. Despite this, officers told us that it isn’t realistic for them to always set time aside to proactively locate and arrest outstanding suspects due to high demand on their time and a high number of outstanding incidents. This means the prompt arrest of offenders can get passed from team to team without a timely arrest taking place. To help address this problem, some districts have a tasking team, which can be used for arresting district offenders such as high-risk domestic abuse suspects. In addition, each district now has a prisoner processing unit that takes over the investigation and that processes some of those who have been arrested. This means response officers can resume their duties to respond to public demand.
The digital investigation unit takes a long time to examine computers
The digital investigation unit has a 9 to 12-month standard turnaround time for the examination of computers. This places pressure on investigator workloads, causes delays in bringing offenders to justice and affects the welfare of suspects waiting for the results of investigations. It may also allow suspects the opportunity to commit further offences.
The force manages the use of bail well
The use of pre-charge bail is managed well in the force, which has tried to increase its use when appropriate. It has developed a criminal justice performance toolkit software package, which monitors the use of bail, released under investigation, voluntary attendance and case file reviews. The toolkit provides data at various levels, from force to district to individual level. The data is examined at both criminal justice strategic meetings and district performance meetings to support the effective use and management of bail.
The force identifies and manages arrested foreign nationals effectively
The force works with immigration enforcement to identify and manage arrested foreign nationals effectively. The custody IT system prompts custody officers to ask for and record a detained person’s place of birth. Custody staff then conduct checks with the immigration service and make sure an ACRO check is carried out.
The force effectively manages the risk posed to the public by the most dangerous offenders
Greater Manchester Police has a substantial number of registered sex offenders to manage. At 31 March 2021, there were 4,018 registered sex offenders living in the community.
The force uses a nationally approved risk assessment tool, the active risk management system (ARMS), to risk-assess registered sex offenders (RSOs). Offender managers are trained to use this tool and the force has a number of trainers supporting the professional development of those who manage offenders. Refresher training has also been undertaken by all offender managers.
The force has deviated from the College of Policing authorised professional practice in relation to the frequency of re-assessment of RSOs and its reactive management of offenders. This has been agreed by chief officers as force policy in the short term, with a commitment to review the approach once the planned increase in offender managers has been achieved.
To protect the public from the most dangerous offenders, the force routinely considers the use of civil orders and staff are provided with digital equipment to monitor compliance with sexual harm prevention orders. Breaches are monitored and action is taken by the force. Also, the force’s digital investigation unit and offender managers spend two days per week making home visits to RSOs.
Awareness of RSOs varies throughout local policing teams
We found an inconsistent awareness of RSOs in local policing teams. The offender managers based in some districts have developed stronger working relationships with neighbourhood and district policing teams. This has resulted in greater awareness and working together to manage offenders. Each RSO is marked as a sex offender in the records management IT system to ensure that officers are aware of the individual’s RSO status.
The force works effectively with other organisations to manage offenders
The force has multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) in place, with a coordinator in its integrated offender management (IOM) team. Effective partnership working was acknowledged by the organisations the force works with. The MAPPA purpose and processes are promoted through presentations provided at investigation and district training events.
The sexual crime unit deals effectively with high-risk investigations
The force has a dedicated sexual crime unit (SCU), which has systems in place to proactively identify the sharing of indecent images of children from various sources. This includes the daily monitoring of specialist software used to identify people who are sharing such images. Staff in the SCU are trained to the National Crime Agency image grading standard. This training gives staff the skills in support of the prosecution of offenders. Action is taken in relation to high-risk investigations and medium and lower-risk investigations are carried out by district-based investigators. There is clear governance in place with performance data to monitor the progress of all investigations. Staff in the SCU consider their workloads to be manageable; they aim to take positive action for high-risk investigations, executing search warrants in 7–14 days. The force recognises the need for safeguarding considerations, along with the welfare needs of suspects and has made appropriate provision. An officer is designated for safeguarding during the execution of a search warrant (while a search is carried out) and completes the appropriate referrals to support services.
The force has an effective integrated offender management (IOM) programme
The force has a dedicated IOM unit in each of its districts. These have been reviewed recently and aligned with the refreshed national policy and structure. Although they have only just been realigned, we found a clear focus and good partnership working towards the rehabilitation of offenders.
The force uses a scoring tool to assess information and intelligence relating to offender activity and includes data from other organisations to decide whether offenders are to be managed under the IOM programme. Current cohorts include those involved in serious theft, serious and organised crime, and violence such as domestic abuse. Officers told us that the realignment has made the workload more manageable. They have monitoring processes in place to score and manage offenders and they use intelligence in the programme to support measures to reduce crime and offending.
The force understands the benefits of managing offenders effectively and the effect and costs associated with offending
The analysis of the benefits of managing offenders is in its early stages, given the recent review and restructuring of the IOM programme. The force recognises the benefits and has several processes for diverting people away from criminal behaviour and offending. These include pilot domestic abuse perpetrator programmes and serious safeguarding units, which support young vulnerable people through education and activities. The force has also established an Investment Hub, which has the potential to support up to 56 young people in an attempt to divert them away from the influence of serious organised crime. This is a new project and it currently has nine young people in the programme. The hub offers a range of supportive functions – one-to-one mentoring, sporting and creative activities, and quicker access to services such as mental health provision. The hub works with several agencies, including public, private and third sector bodies. It’s too early to assess the effectiveness of this approach, but it’s clearly a positive step in diverting young people from a path that could lead to organised crime.
Disrupting serious organised crime
Greater Manchester Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime.
Understanding SOC and setting priorities to tackle it
In 2021, we inspected how good Greater Manchester Police was at tackling SOC. We identified several significant issues, which amounted to a cause of concern. We wrote to the chief constable informing him of this cause of concern. During this current inspection, we were pleased to note that significant improvements have been made to address these issues.
The force has developed how it strategically assesses the threat from SOC
The force has a strategic assessment and control strategy, which defines its SOC threats. Each local policing area has individual SOC local profiles, which allow police and partners to better understand their local threats. We did, however, find that the content of these SOC local profiles varied considerably. Some had action plans, while others didn’t. It would benefit the force to standardise the appearance and content of these profiles.
The force has restructured the intelligence command to improve its understanding of SOC threats
When we inspected the force in 2021, we found that overt and covert intelligence functions were separate, under two different commands. This meant that the force wasn’t able to analyse all available intelligence to fully understand the threats from SOC. During this inspection, the force told us that it has invested an additional £2 million in the FIB. This has allowed a restructure of the intelligence function. The central intelligence teams have moved into the FIB under the management of the head of intelligence. Within this new intelligence structure, the force has created threat desks for each of the priorities identified in its control strategy. Nominated senior officers are appointed for each priority and have dedicated analytical support. This has resulted in better management of these priorities.
The force is developing better performance management processes
The force has developed a meeting and performance structure to examine its SOC performance. This new structure allows resources to be allocated to target the threats that pose the highest risk. In the meetings that we observed, there was a focus on strategic 4P plans, which link to the force’s control strategy. We observed senior leaders identify and challenge areas requiring performance improvement. Generally, the personnel that we interviewed welcomed this new structure.
The force needs to encourage the workforce to submit intelligence
The force acknowledges that over the last three years, there has been a significant reduction in the submission of intelligence reports. This is concerning and may indicate that some intelligence isn’t being recorded.
The main reason for this appears to be that personnel have lost confidence in the force’s crime and intelligence system. They find it difficult to use and it has limited functionality. We previously reported that the force faced difficulties and risks when it introduced this system in 2019. The force is in the process of replacing it. When a new system is introduced, it is vital that personnel are trained to use it confidently.
Resources and skills
Area for improvement
Greater Manchester Police needs to improve its capacity to tackle serious and organised crime
Greater Manchester Police faces some challenges in its capacity to tackle serious and organised crime (SOC).
It doesn’t have an on-call surveillance capability and relies on other forces for support if needed outside core hours.
At the time of our inspection, the force also had a significant number of vacant posts in SOC specialist roles.
The situation in the force intelligence bureau has improved since our last inspection, but vacancies remain. Analyst recruitment and retention are still an issue for the force. This is in part due to it being the lowest-paying force in the region for this role. Senior leaders we spoke to explained that the force is running recruitment campaigns and expect the situation to improve further.
During interviews, we were told that the SOC group, which undertakes specialist SOC investigations, had a 28 percent vacancy rate. This included several vacancies in the force surveillance team. This means that the SOC group can’t always meet the demand for specialist SOC investigations. The force has decided to recruit unqualified officers into the SOC group and then train them while in post. Since our inspection, the force has told us that this unit is now fully staffed. We welcome this, but it is likely that it will take time for new officers to become fully competent.
LROs understand their role in tackling SOC
The LRO role is allocated to divisional detective superintendents. The LROs we spoke to felt well supported by other units, such as the SOC group and FIB. They have access to specialist tactical advice through the force covert commissioning services meetings. The force invites the NWROCU to this meeting to identify any further specialist support.
We found that LROs had received specific training developed by the Home Office. The LROs we interviewed explained that their primary role is to assist with preventative elements of 4P plans. However, some told us that they haven’t yet received training in how to write 4P plans. The force has informed us that there is a plan to train all LROs in this area.
Often, day-to-day management of 4P plans is undertaken by locally based inspectors and chief inspectors. We found that this process was working well. LROs attend force‑level SOC performance meetings and are held to account for the progress of their plans. We also found that there was an informal process of LROs peer reviewing each other’s 4P plans and investigations.
The force has a team that deals with threats to life in one local area
In response to a high number of threats-to-life incidents in the Salford area, the force introduced a dedicated team to manage these sensitive investigations. The investigators in this team have developed specialist skills and experience, which enables them to manage these types of threats. The unit regularly provides advice and guidance on threats-to-life investigations to personnel in other areas of the force.
The force is introducing an intelligence training academy
The force’s new intelligence training academy will provide the training required by its intelligence professionals. The aim is to reduce delays in training and improve the standard and consistency of intelligence products. It will also provide mandated accreditation for intelligence personnel.
The force should develop an IT strategy to improve efficiency and effectiveness
We have already described issues with the force’s crime and intelligence system. The force uses several other IT systems to manage its SOC intelligence and investigations. It is also part of the regional rollout of APMIS, which means that personnel will be inputting and accessing information on a further IT system. The use of multiple systems across the force is likely to create disparate sources of information. This makes it difficult for analysts and investigators to access available information. This is inefficient.
Tackling SOC and safeguarding people and communities
Greater Manchester Police successfully targets criminal finance
The economic crime unit contains several specialist teams that perform different functions, including freezing bank accounts and confiscating criminal assets. Financial investigators are based locally and in serious organised crime unit. The economic crime unit benefits from good analytical support. Last year, the force reported that it had recovered £13.7 million in criminal assets.
We were told about an operation where the force seized £16 million of fraudulently obtained cryptocurrency. The force’s cybercrime team has developed an innovative process to return most of this money to victims; this has traditionally been a challenge for law enforcement agencies. This process has been shared through the national cybercrime network.
Greater Manchester Police effectively targets serious and organised crime in high-harm locations
The force has launched Operation Vulcan, which follows the Clear, Hold, Build model, in the Cheetham Hill area in response to public concerns about the effects of organised crime. Principally, this was to tackle issues resulting from the sale of counterfeit goods, such as modern slavery, enforced labour, sexual exploitation, money laundering, serious violent crime and the sale of illicit medicines. Over 30 organised crime groups have been identified as operating in this area.
Using funds confiscated from criminals, the force has funded a dedicated team for three years. It has employed a range of tactics, which is having a positive effect in the Cheetham Hill area. During focus groups, we were told that there is no longer any open drug dealing in the area and that the sale of counterfeit goods has been eradicated. One officer explained how a member of the community told them that they now feel safe in the area.
Over 65 agencies participated in this operation, including Trading Standards, Immigration Enforcement and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. The force is working with intellectual property crime teams in the City of London Police and the NWROCU.
The force has achieved some significant results, including the seizure of 255 tonnes of counterfeit clothing, £1.2 million worth of class C drugs and £248,000 cash.
The force has also introduced Operation Avro to deploy officers in problem areas. The operation is widely publicised throughout the Greater Manchester area, including on the force website. Senior leaders told us that this is having an impact on organised crime. They shared some performance data that highlights the successes achieved, including nearly 600 arrests, the seizure of 250 vehicles and the recovery of drugs and cash amounting to nearly £2 million.
The force should continue to improve how it records disruptions on APMIS
In the year ending 31 December 2022, the force recorded 490 disruptions. Most (70 percent) were for pursue disruption activity.
Personnel we spoke to demonstrated a strong knowledge of activity undertaken to prevent people from becoming involved in SOC and to protect vulnerable victims. But it seems likely that some of this work isn’t being recorded.
During our inspection, we were told that the force is recording disruptions more accurately on its own IT system. Having checked APMIS since our inspection fieldwork, we can see that there have been demonstrable improvements in disruption recording by the force. It is good to see that it has responded to our feedback on this issue. The force expects this to improve further with the regional rollout of APMIS.
The force works well with partner agencies
The force and partners, such as Trading Standards and health, work together to tackle SOC and associated exploitation through the multi-agency initiative Programme Challenger. We also found some examples of police and partner agencies being co‑located. Generally, this appears to be effective, and partners are well engaged. One partner representative told us that they feel like an equal partner and that it’s “not just the police and the rest of us”.
We were pleased to see that information sharing with charities is good. In fact, the force has given the charity Justice and Care access to its crime recording system so that it can identify and contact victims of crime to offer them support. However, we found that local authority structures didn’t fully align with the local force areas, which sometimes makes it difficult to adopt the same processes in all areas.
The force has a modern slavery team to co-ordinate a partnership approach to tackling this threat. There is a dedicated analyst who assesses intelligence relating to modern slavery. A network of tactical advisers and victim liaison officers provide training and support to officers across the force to make sure that they know how to support victims of slavery.
The force is delivering its commitment to tackle county lines
In 2022, the force established a county lines investigation team. A Home Office grant was used to fund this. The force told us that since its creation, the team has closed 63 identified drug lines and is likely to exceed the target set by the Home Office.
We were shown examples of preventative work undertaken to tackle child criminal exploitation:
- Breaking barriers is a play to warn young people about exploitation linked to county lines gangs. This has been delivered in 44 schools and has reached over 1,500 pupils.
- WeMove, funded through the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme and the Greater Manchester Command Authority, has provided mentoring to 45 young people. The project is being independently assessed by the Open University.
The force is tackling firearms-enabled organised criminality
The force tackles firearms-related crime under its strategic priority of serious violent crime. It has introduced a new process to improve its response to intelligence relating to gun crime. The force told us that firearms discharges have reduced by 29 percent since 2021. While recorded discharges have declined across England and Wales over the last two years, this figure is still significant.
Read An inspection of the north-west regional response to serious and organised crime – November 2023
Building, supporting and protecting the workforce
Greater Manchester Police is inadequate at building and developing its workforce. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Cause of concern
Greater Manchester Police doesn’t currently have the arrangements in place to support and build its workforce
Within six months Greater Manchester Police should:
- work with its workforce to understand the risks and threats to staff wellbeing, and use this to inform the actions it takes;
- understand the performance of its workforce, support staff development and deal with poor performance fairly and consistently; and
- fairly and consistently identify those with the potential to become senior leaders and nurture and encourage them to gain the skills for future leadership roles.
The chief constable and senior leaders are aware of the issues found in relation to how the force builds and protects its workforce. The new long-term plan published in September 2021, Planning our future: Building a new GMP, recognises the need to focus on the welfare, support and wellbeing of the workforce. Such improvements will take time to come about.
During our inspection we found that the force has yet to address the workforce areas for improvement that were identified during our last PEEL inspection. In too many areas the force does not proactively maintain or promote the wellbeing of its workforce. High levels of workload, with overtime regularly used to manage demand, mean that its workforce is fatigued. This also affects the work-life balance of the workforce. Not having resources in the right place to manage demand and not providing the tools to support the productivity of its workforce creates frustrations.
Officers and staff told us that previously no one had listened to their concerns and views and they lacked a sense of belonging. With the exception of a COVID-19 welfare survey and a National Wellbeing & Inclusion Survey in 2020, the force hasn’t completed a comprehensive workforce survey since 2018, to assess the wellbeing of its workforce and to understand the threats and risks to staff wellbeing and their underlying causes. Senior leaders have consulted the workforce more recently to better understand organisational factors that hinder staff members from doing their jobs. This has resulted in senior leaders recognising that the workforce is frustrated by the lack of organisational support for them to do their job. The wellbeing provision in the force is reactive rather than preventative and lacks continuous wellbeing support. The force doesn’t currently have a detailed achievable plan to improve the wellbeing of its workforce.
The force does not have an effective workforce performance management system to support workforce development and fairly address poor performance.
Chief officers are aware that the force has lost experienced members of the workforce through resignations and transfers to other police forces. The working conditions were the top reason provided by those who were willing to share this with the force. The force is now seeking to put measures in place to reduce the number leaving the organisation and even to encourage officers and staff to return to employment in the force.
Areas for improvement
The force should ensure it has a process for its workforce staff to refer to and discuss ethical concerns
This was highlighted during the last PEEL inspection and the force has yet to address this area. The force has a confidential integrity line for officers and staff to report concerns. There is an external ethics committee, which reviews force strategic and operational activity such as custody provision and use of body-worn video. Yet officers said that they were unaware of who they should turn to, to discuss any ethical concerns. The force should provide its workforce with an opportunity to refer and discuss ethical dilemmas and concerns and ensure that the results are communicated to them.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve how it manages grievances so that it provides timely outcomes for officers and staff
Again, this area for improvement was identified during the last PEEL inspection but no progress has been made yet. The force is committed to a new organisational justice model so that grievances and potential misconduct are dealt with more fairly.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force builds and develops its workforce.
The force is developing an ethical and inclusive culture at all levels
The force leadership is promoting an ethical and inclusive culture. The workforce understands what is expected of them in demonstrating acceptable standards of behaviour. The force has provided training to foster the culture and ethics of its workforce, and results of misconduct cases are communicated to the workforce and to the community. The workforce and support networks told us during the inspection that they feel that chief officers are now listening to their concerns and they are starting to feel more positive about the future.
The force is expanding its workforce for the future
The chief constable has invested in additional senior leaders through promotion and the recruitment of experienced senior leaders from other police forces. This is to provide leadership, direction and accountability in each of the policing districts and to fill additional roles in strategic departments.
The force understands its recruitment needs for the future and has been maintaining the pace of the recruitment of officers. The current plan for Greater Manchester Police is to recruit 688 police officers as part of the uplift programme with the aim of reaching 7,475 officers by 31 March 2022. The force had 7,242 officers at 30 June 2021 and is on track to meet its aim. It has progressed its plans to achieve the requirements of the policing education qualifications framework (PEQF). Its first cohort of student officers under the framework joined in November 2021, with a new cohort of officers joining every five weeks thereafter.
The force has worked hard to reflect the community it serves in its workforce
The force has set its recruitment priorities to improve the diversity of its workforce and better reflect the community it serves. It has proactively sought to attract applications from under-represented groups. For the year ending 31 March 2021, the proportion of police officers joining the force from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds was slightly higher than the proportion of BAME individuals in the force area (16.8 percent of those who stated their ethnicity, compared to 16.2 percent). Should this positive recruitment rate continue, it will increase the force’s total proportion of police officers from BAME backgrounds, which was 9.3 percent as at 31 March 2021.
The force is addressing the problem of many officers and staff leaving
The new leadership in the force is aware that the force has previously had a high number of leavers, including a number of experienced officers transferring to other police forces. In the year ending 31 March 2021, of the 364 FTE officers who left the force, 19 percent transferred to other forces and 17 percent resigned from the force. Of those who completed an exit questionnaire, the most common reason for leaving was the working conditions. The force now has a process to identify earlier those considering such a move and seeks to address any motivating factors to persuade officers to stay. The force is also actively seeking to support officers returning to the force, who bring the skills and experience it had previously lost.
The force needs to improve how it is developing its workforce to be fit for the future
The force doesn’t have an effective understanding of the skills of the workforce or the learning and development needs of the staff. During our inspection published in 2018, we established that the force doesn’t have an effective personal development review process. This hasn’t improved since our last inspection and the vast majority of officers and staff we spoke to didn’t have performance conversations with their managers. This means that the force can’t be sure that its managers and supervisors are having performance and development conversations with their staff and that they understand the development needs of the workforce. Therefore, the force can’t tailor learning and development to meet the needs of the workforce. In addition, the force can’t be sure that poor performance is being identified and addressed fairly.
Similarly, the force doesn’t have a process to identify and develop talented officers and staff. This was again identified in our last PEEL inspection and the force hasn’t yet introduced such a process.
Strategic planning, organisational management and value for money
Greater Manchester Police requires improvement at operating efficiently. In this section we set out our most noteworthy findings for this question.
Cause of concern
The force doesn’t currently have a sufficient understanding of either its demand or the capability and capacity of its workforce
Within six months Greater Manchester Police should:
- improve its understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce so to increase efficiency and support succession planning for future resource management;
- improve workforce planning to better align its workforce with current and future demand;
- ensure it has the capacity and capability to analyse police and information and intelligence from other organisations in order to produce the reports it needs to comprehensively understand and manage its demand; and
- continue to develop its governance and performance framework to alert senior managers of underperformance and allow timely action to be taken to address performance problems.
Within 12 months Greater Manchester Police should:
- improve its records management IT system so that it meets the needs of the force and its workforce.
The chief constable has publicly acknowledged the clear organisational management problems that need to be addressed so that the force has resources with the right skills and tools in the right places to efficiently manage current and future demands from the public.
The force now has a clear long-term plan published in September 2021: Planning our future: Building a new GMP. This has started the process of reforming the force’s leadership, governance and performance framework. This process will take some time to bring about the significant changes needed. Encouragingly, the initial pace of change has already yielded some improvements.
During our inspection we found that the force has inefficiencies in its organisational management, which have resulted in the workforce being unable to meet demand. The force had previously lacked a performance framework and, at times, the management information from which managers could identify and remedy poor performance. Inefficient governance, corporate services and resource distribution, along with poorly functioning equipment such as ICT and vehicles, have contributed to reduced workforce productivity.
Workforce planning is weak and not aligned well with current and future demand. There is no clear picture of overall demand; nor is there a clear picture of where the skills and resources are. The force doesn’t have a good enough understanding of the skills and skills gaps in its workforce. The force has identified demand pressure points, but there is an overall shortage of resources for those areas. To deal with this growing demand, the force has simply increased resources in areas where there is a spike in demand, which creates a shortfall elsewhere, for example the Operational Communications Branch.
The force is moving quickly to tackle its resource shortages. Some progress has been made in bringing in skills and capabilities at senior leadership level. But more time is needed to make progress and invest in people with the right skills. In addition, the force has yet to resolve the problems caused by inefficient and ineffective ICT systems. The chief constable has set this as a priority.
Areas for improvement
Areas for improvement
The force’s financial plans need to be developed quickly to ensure that finances will be sustainable and meet future demands
In particular the force needs to:
- develop a sustainable and affordable medium-term financial plan (MTFP) that will help it to provide policing services that meet future demand, based on reasonable assumptions about future income and expenditure; and
- make sure that financial plans are aligned with workforce, ICT, estates and other corporate plans, and that all are accurately informed by a sound understanding of likely future demand for the force’s services.
The pace of change in the force during 2021 has been rapid. The force recognises that its financial planning needs to keep pace with those changes. Significant new investment and reallocation of existing funding will be required to achieve service improvement. The chief constable has recognised that the force lacks the necessary capacity and capability in its corporate services and is strengthening this capacity, particularly in relation to finance, investment and collaboration.
The current MTFP does not reflect the new long-term plan, Planning our future: Building a new GMP, and the new direction the force is taking. The force is developing a new MTFP aligned with the new long-term plan, which will allow the force to work towards the plan’s long-term objectives and which will be affordable in the short and medium term.
The force is facing financial difficulties as demand on its services is expected to continue to exceed its available funding. Chief officers have identified opportunities to reduce anticipated increases in spending, which means the force is likely to achieve a balanced budget in the 2021/22 financial year. The force has made realistic assumptions about likely government grant income and the potential for a local council tax increase. It is currently in discussion with the Mayor’s Office to agree the use of one-off funding from reserves over the next two years. This is to fund the investments needed to achieve improvement at the pace required, for example in ICT and vehicles.
Chief officers have already started several change programmes, many of which are already funded. The force is recruiting an extra 450 police officers in 2022/23, funded through the uplift programme. In addition, the force has identified that additional investment in back-office posts, funded by reserves in the short term, is required to provide the right skills and capabilities to help manage the change and tackle causes of concern and areas for improvement.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force operates efficiently.
The force has an effective long-term planning and performance framework, making sure that it tackles what is important locally and nationally
The force has started to change under the new chief constable and chief officer team. There had been a period of rapid change in response to our findings before the new chief constable’s appointment. The pace and scale of change has increased since then.
The chief constable commissioned a review and the development of a new long-term plan, which was published in September 2021. Planning our future: Building a new GMP identifies the immediate response needed to address our concerns and the findings of the root cause analysis commissioned by the mayor. The plan also outlines a new force strategy, which includes the leadership, accountability and effectiveness needed to meet the priorities set by the mayor’s Police and crime plan and the government plan for policing.
A new governance, performance and change structure has been put in place, aligned with the long-term plan. The chief constable and leadership team have reviewed all existing change programmes, and a number of new change programmes and reviews have been started, with a chief officer as senior responsible officer and a workforce lead assigned to each one.
The force’s clear direction and long-term plan will take time to develop and bring about the improvements needed and identified by the chief constable. We will continue to monitor these improvements closely.
The force is making sure it has the right resources to meet future needs
Because of the current government pledge to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales by 31 March 2023, the force’s police officer establishment (the number of officers needed to meet demand) for the period October 2020 to March 2023 is set to increase. As at 30 June 2021, the force had increased its headcount by 455 using the funding it received from the uplift programme. The allocation for Greater Manchester Police was intended to be used to increase their headcount by 688 by March 2022. The increase in officer numbers has so far helped the force to plan the reallocation of additional resources to areas of priority and high demand.
The force has been able to increase capacity in a range of areas, for example 50 neighbourhood beat officers – providing a named officer for every ward – and a dedicated transport unit of 50 officers. However, agreed increases in the Operational Communications Branch and the sex offender management unit and increases to support dedicated vulnerability investigators have yet to be fully realised.
The decisions about where extra officers – from the increase in staffing – would be posted were all taken locally. All areas put in a bid for extra officers based on local assessment of demand but there was no force-wide oversight of these bids and little challenge to them. This means the force can’t be confident that it is getting the best results possible from this extra investment in staff.
The force is developing its understanding of future demand
There is some understanding of what the size of the workforce will need to be over the next four years in terms of numbers of staff and officers, but more work is needed to understand the required skill set. The force is aware of its gap in capacity, particularly in relation to the length of service profile, with significant numbers of student officers and a shortage of detectives. Staff are needed in specialist roles that require specialist knowledge. Senior leaders understand the effect this will have and how they need to allocate resources, as do superintendent ranks as they live with the consequences of skills gaps on a daily basis. For example, they have recently had to move newly trained officers into the control room to cope with demand.
The external relations and performance branch is now developing reports to better understand current and future demand. Further work is needed on understanding the demand that the frontline generates for the back office. This demand is starting to create some difficult pinch points in the organisation. For example, new student officers are creating a lot of demand in the HR department. This type of demand isn’t fully understood throughout the organisation, but it is now being incorporated into the force review and change programmes.
The force cannot demonstrate it is continuing to achieve efficiency savings and improve productivity
The force doesn’t have sufficiently reliable data to carry out cost and value for money (VFM) comparisons. There are many different plans throughout the force designed to improve performance and VFM, using the extra resources now available. Despite this, the back office isn’t sufficiently strong to draw everything together into a coherent whole to ensure that the best use is being made of resources.
There have been significant investments in digital technology to improve productivity, but its implementation hasn’t always gone smoothly because users haven’t been fully involved. The PoliceWorks records management IT system within the Integrated Operational Policing System (iOPS), for example, hasn’t brought tangible benefits and is widely regarded as creating inefficiencies rather than improving productivity. PoliceWorks hasn’t improved agile working. Indeed, it has had the opposite effect: to draw people back to the office to input data to the system. Many of the workforce we spoke to told us it had significantly reduced their productivity and efficiency and the force has needed to increase resources in some areas, such as safeguarding triage, to counter those inefficiencies and maintain service levels. The force doesn’t yet have a records management and custody management IT system that fully meets its needs.
The force has done little to develop new collaborations
As a large metropolitan force, the force finds collaboration with other forces challenging. It continues to maintain its well-established collaborations, such as the regional organised crime units and the North West Motorway Police Group. But the force has made little progress in developing new collaborations. There are some limited collaborations in back-office services with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority but no apparent fire and rescue service collaboration, other than some limited sharing of estates.
Some ICT investment has been successful
The force has made some progress in making it possible people to report crimes online, as opposed to by telephone through the introduction of the platform ‘Single Online Home’. This has resulted in a positive move to online reporting, which has helped to reduce demand on staff in its control room. The force told us it has invested £20m to improve ICT service provision and provide laptops and mobile technology to its officers and staff. This is to improve agile working to help officers to spend more time in communities.
About the data
Data in this report is from a range of sources, including:
- Home Office;
- Office for National Statistics (ONS);
- our inspection fieldwork; and
- data we collected directly from all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
When we collected data directly from police forces, we took reasonable steps to agree the design of the data collection with forces and with other interested parties such as the Home Office. We gave forces several opportunities to quality assure and validate the data they gave us, to make sure it was accurate. We shared the submitted data with forces, so they could review their own and other forces’ data. This allowed them to analyse where data was notably different from other forces or internally inconsistent.
We set out the source of this report’s data below.
Data in the report
British Transport Police was outside the scope of inspection. Any aggregated totals for England and Wales exclude British Transport Police data, so will differ from those published by the Home Office.
When other forces were unable to supply data, we mention this under the relevant sections below.
The dotted lines on the Bar Charts show one Standard Deviation (sd) above and below the unweighted mean across all forces. Where the distribution of the scores appears normally distributed, the sd is calculated in the normal way. If the forces are not normally distributed, the scores are transformed by taking logs and a Shapiro Wilks test performed to see if this creates a more normal distribution. If it does, the logged values are used to estimate the sd. If not, the sd is calculated using the normal values. Forces with scores more than 1 sd units from the mean (i.e. with Z-scores greater than 1, or less than -1) are considered as showing performance well above, or well below, average. These forces will be outside the dotted lines on the Bar Chart. Typically, 32% of forces will be above or below these lines for any given measure.
For all uses of population as a denominator in our calculations, unless otherwise noted, we use ONS mid-2020 population estimates.
Survey of police workforce
We surveyed the police workforce across England and Wales, to understand their views on workloads, redeployment and how suitable their assigned tasks were. This survey was a non-statistical, voluntary sample so the results may not be representative of the workforce population. The number of responses per force varied. So we treated results with caution and didn’t use them to assess individual force performance. Instead, we identified themes that we could explore further during fieldwork.
Victim Service Assessment
Our victim service assessments (VSAs) will track a victim’s journey from reporting a crime to the police, through to outcome stage. All forces will be subjected to a VSA within our PEEL inspection programme. Some forces will be selected to additionally be tested on crime recording, in a way that ensures every force is assessed on its crime recording practices at least every three years.
Read the details of the technical methodology for the Victim Service Assessment.
Crimes, crime outcomes and crime severity
We took data on crime and outcomes from the July 2021 release of the Home Office police-recorded crime and outcomes data tables. Crime severity scores were taken from the July 2020 release of the Office for National Statistics experimental statistics.
Total police-recorded crime includes all crime (except fraud) recorded by all forces in England and Wales (except BTP). Home Office publications on the overall volumes and rates of recorded crime and outcomes include British Transport Police, which is outside the scope of this HMICFRS inspection. Therefore, England and Wales rates in this report will differ from those published by the Home Office.
Police-recorded crime data should be treated with care. Recent increases may be due to forces’ renewed focus on accurate crime recording since our 2014 national crime data inspection.
For a full commentary and explanation of crime and outcome types please see the Home Office statistics.
Workforce figures (including ethnicity)
This data was obtained from the Home Office annual data return 502. The data is available from the Home Office’s published police workforce England and Wales statistics or the police workforce open data tables. The Home Office may have updated these figures since we obtained them for this report.