Extra police for Wigan as council tax crime levy goes up

There could soon be more police officers cracking down on crime in Wigan thanks to an increase in the council tax precept.
Chief Constable Ian HopkinsChief Constable Ian Hopkins
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) announced it will be recruiting an extra 320 front-line staff with the money, bringing the total ranks to 6,570 officers.

However, the recruitment is still some way down on the 8,219 officers the force had in 2010.

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The priorities for the new officers will be reducing crime on the region's transport network, protecting vulnerable people from crime and tackling local disorder in communities across the region.

The move came after 59 per cent of people in a Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) consultation backed the raise of £24 per year for a household in council tax band D.

By March this year GMP's budget will been reduced by £215m while officers also find themselves dealing with increasingly complex crimes.

Nevertheless top brass gave the extra funding a warm welcome.

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Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “We have been working hard to transform the way we deliver policing, and this will continue. The additional officers will be able to help us continue our commitment to neighbourhood policing and create a proactive team that can be sent to crime hotspots.

"It moves us some way towards the 7,000 officers I believe we need to police Greater Manchester.

“I am grateful to the mayor and deputy mayor of Greater Manchester and the Police and Crime Panel for approving this increase. I know people are facing difficult times but together we can make our communities safer.

“We have outlined in the citizens’ contract that we will use the resources we have responsibly, and people will see this in the plans to use the additional funding. Alongside this the work to transform how we police continues including the introduction of new technology, focusing on those most vulnerable in our communities and ensuring close working with other agencies.

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“Recruiting these new officers will be a challenge and people won’t see an immediate increase as our new recruits will spend 20 weeks at the training centre and then 10 weeks with a tutor before they can patrol alone.

“We have been listening to people about the problems they are facing in communities which is why the officers will be used to boost policing in neighbourhoods and create a proactive team who will work across Greater Manchester supporting community operations.”

The additional precept funding will raise £18m to be used on recruiting 170 neighbourhood officers to support the most vulnerable in communities across Greater Manchester, creating a proactive team of 50 officers tackling local problems and establishing a team of 50 officers to work across the transport network.

Alongside this will be 50 new detectives who will work on complex investigations, also funded by the precept.

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Politicians said asking the public to pay more in council tax had not been easy but they believed it was the right decision and pledged all the money would go directly to fighting crime.

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes said: “I want to thank panel members for supporting this proposal, and also to the communities of Greater Manchester for backing their local police service.

"I also want to be clear that this has been a difficult decision to make. However, in light of the Government’s continued failure to fund Greater Manchester Police fairly, we have been left with very little choice to ask residents to pay a little more to ensure we can keep our communities safe.”

Work will get underway to bring in the additional officers throughout 2019-2020.