CRIMINALS across Wigan are being warned they face a distinctly unmerry Christmas as the force launches Operation Bauble - its 12-day crime crackdown.
Our reporter Lucy Hilton spent a day with officers on their first day of operations.
Starting bright and early, dozens of officers packed into the Wigan police’s headquarters for an hour-long briefing on the day’s crime crackdown patrols.
I sat in on the meeting and it was the start of a truly eye-opening experience.
The briefing opened my eyes into just how many organised criminal gangs travel from different areas, for example Merseyside and Lancashire, into the borough in a bid to escape the attentions of local police.
And Wigan intelligence officers are working around the clock this Christmas to gather information on these gangs in an effort to put them behind bars. However, the main focus of the launch in Wigan was to crackdown on domestic abuse cases. Wigan has one of the worst records in the region for domestic violence and police are taking a proactive approach to tackle the problem.
Local officers were supported by special constables and specialist units including traffic, mounted officers, tactical aid units, dog handlers and intercept ANPR teams.
I then was assigned onto the operation with PC Andy Davies and PC Richie Devers who have worked in the Wigan area for a combined 18 years. Our first assignment of the day was a three-car pile up crash in Whelley.
Although very shook up, all those involved, including a male taxi driver, a male in his 40s and female in her 20s, escaped without injury.
Everybody involved in the collision was checked for insurance, breathalysed and checked over by paramedics before we headed straight to our next job - the scene of a domestic abuse incident in Aspull. The 19-year-old complainant, who was heavily pregnant, explained the details of the case and gave a statement to the two officers who took time to ensure she was safe before setting off again.
An hour and a half later, PC Davies and PC Devers left the scene to follow up the case further. This will include interviewing witnesses and tracking down the accused.
PC Davies said: “This was quite a quick domestic abuse case, sometimes we can spend hours with the victim.
“But this is just the start, we then have to interview witnesses, track down the accused as well as interviewing him, this is all before it even goes to the courts.
“We spend copious amounts of time on each case in order to ensure it is thoroughly dealt with. Each day an incident is always different.”
Supt Craig Thompson from Specialist Operations added: “Operation Bauble sends a very clear warning to offenders that we will not be winding down for Christmas and letting them go on their merry way.
“Over the next month we will be holding a series of high-profile days of action aimed at disrupting criminal activities and keeping the good people of Greater Manchester safe during the festive period.
“Using officers and specialist units from across the force, we intend on blitzing crime and stopping offenders in their tracks so that the only Christmas they’ll be looking forward to is with us.”
Operation Bauble has definitely opened my eyes to just how much detail is put in by police into ensuring each criminal is dealt with accordingly.
Hopefully with the extensive work of the force on this 12-day blitz, crime on the borough’s streets will be significantly lowered for the festive season.
For more information and live updates follow #OpBauble on twitter.