Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) response to serious and organised crime has been recognised as ‘good’ and innovative by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
The inspectorate assessed the effectiveness and efficiency of the north-west regional response to serious organised crime (SOC) earlier this year.
The findings have been published today - stating GMP is ‘good’ at tackling SOC and that ‘significant improvements have been made’ to address the cause of concern which was identified during the 2021 inspection.
The report also highlights two areas of innovative practice – saying the force ‘effectively targets SOC in high harm locations’, recognising the successes of operations Vulcan and Avro; and Greater Manchester Police ‘successfully targets criminal finance’.
GMP’s Economic Crime Unit is responsible for freezing bank accounts and confiscating criminal assets e.g. money/ property. In the 2022/2023 financial year, the unit recovered over 15 million pounds from offenders and contributed to the development of a process to return money to victims - which has been shared nationally as an example of best practice. The ECU is on track to secure a place in the top three best performing police forces in the country in terms of asset recovery, for the second year in a row.
Through the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS), confiscated assets are reinvested into communities – funding projects which contribute to the prevention and reduction of crime. In the last few months, these have included youth zones, sports clubs, and theatre companies who educate young people on the dangers of carrying knives.
Economic Crime is just one unit within the force’s multi-discipline Serious and Organised Crime Team, which is made up of 130 police officers and staff who are invaluably supported by district-based colleagues posted to local Challenger teams.
Detective Superintendent Joe Harrop, Head of Serious and Organised Crime, said: “This is welcome recognition for the force and the team – in recent years, we have taken huge steps forward on our journey to improve the response to serious and organised crime.
“Whilst we have previously been able to evidence progress using data – such as the 70% decrease in firearms discharges in five years and a 42% decrease in homicides in the last year, HMIC’s report recognises that we have improved our assessment of threat and our understanding of the roles of ourselves and partners.
Since the beginning of the year, the dedicated County Lines team has recorded the recovery of more than 20 kilograms of drugs and 43 weapons from the streets of Greater Manchester, 194 arrests, 142 charges, and the sentencing of 27 offenders to a combined total of 95 years imprisonment. Alongside local Challenger teams, whose work has recently been showcased by the BBC Two documentary ‘The Detectives: Taking Down An OCG’, 72 vulnerable children and young people to safeguarding services to prevent them from coming to harm.
DSupt Harrop said: “Whilst responding to incidents and investigating crime is a large part of what we do, we are absolutely committed to stopping offenders in their tracks and early intervention to prevent vulnerable people becoming victims.
“Through our local Challenger teams and Complex Safeguarding Hubs, we are intrinsically linked with partner agencies who help us identify those who are at risk and engage with them in an efficient way which effectively reduces risk.”