Police Chief constable tweets table showing cuts to staffing numbers, after weekend policing protests, festival and bombing inqui
The head of Greater Manchester police has said his force is under “real strain” as a result of major cuts.
Ian Hopkins, the chief constable of GMP, made the remarks three weeks after the Manchester Arena bombing in which 22 were killed and more than 200 injured.
He was backed up by Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, who said he was writing to the prime minister to say that the force was operating at its limits “and probably beyond them”.
Late on Sunday, after 400 officers had been called to clashes in the city centre between anti-Islam and anti-fascist activists, and hundreds more had been policing the Parklife music festival, Hopkins tweeted: “Outstanding from @gmpolice officers & staff this w/e policing protest and Parklife. Real strain on everyone not just this weekend..see below.”
He pasted a table showing planned changes in full-time equivalent GMP officers, staff and police community support officers from 2010 to 2020. The figures showed that by March 2020 the force would have 24% fewer employees than March 2010: a bigger cut than the average for England and Wales.
In March 2010, GMP had a 13,189-strong workforce. That is projected to be down to 10,108 by 2020. The number of officers alone will be down by 1,800 over the decade, according to figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which independently assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and policing.
Burnham was particularly scathing about the city centre protests on Sunday, tweeting: “.@gmpolice are stretched to limit & in middle of on-going investigation. These EDL-types who came today need to have a look at themselves.”
Thousands of people attended the March Against Islamic Hate in Manchester, which was called by Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the far-right English Defence League. The protest was supposed to be silent, but descended into chaos when one of Robinson’s followers waved a pig’s head and marchers clashed with anti-fascist demonstrators.
Eight people were arrested for public order offences, GMP said, noting that such a figure was “not uncommon for a demonstration of this size”.
Ch Supt John O’Hare said: “In order to ensure we could deliver a safe operation we deployed over 400 police officers, including support from other forces. This meant another busy weekend for our people who have worked considerably long hours in extremely challenging circumstances for no other reason other than to look after our communities.”
In an interview with the Guardian, Burnham said he was writing to Theresa May on Monday to demand more resources for GMP.
“There’s no question about it: GMP needs more officers. They are at their limits, probably beyond them, in terms of what they are dealing with. The chief constable has described it as the low end of reasonable. Therefore, that’s borderline unreasonable.”
He said the pressure was ratcheting up, not just because of the terrorism threat but because violent crime was increasing in the region.
“You can’t have these things going up and funding going in the opposite direction. Something has got to give.”
He said the prime minister needed to recognise that the general election result, which resulted in the Conservatives losing their parliamentary majority, was partly due to austerity.
“I think concerns about public service cuts, principally to the police service and NHS, played a big role in people turning against the Tories,” he said.
The investigation into the Manchester bombing has involved more than 1,000 officers from GMP and across the national counter-terrorism policing network.
It is one of the largest investigations the force has conducted, involving the interviewing of 20 suspects and hundreds of witnesses, and the examination of hundreds of hours of CCTV footage, as well as 700 phones, iPads and other media devices.