JAMES GRUNDY MP - Tackling crime in our local areas
Over recent weeks, one of the issues that people have contacted me about most is crime, and more specifically, the rise in violent crime and anti-social behaviour.
During this column, I wanted to take the time to outline what, as Leigh’s MP, I will be doing to help reassure local residents that their concerns are being heard, and more importantly, acted upon.
My constituency office is often inundated with enquiries, primarily related to COVID-19, but in recent weeks there has been a real shift, with increasing numbers of people telling me that they are fed up of being scared to leave their home, or are fearful of their safety, as a result of anti-social behaviour.
This is unacceptable, and something has to be done, which is why I wrote to both the Home Secretary as well as Greater Manchester Police, who are responsible for policing within my constituency, to outline the increasing concern about local crime.
As a result of these enquiries, last week I met with representatives of Wigan division’s senior policing team, during which I raised the increasing concerns of local people about car thefts, break ins, attacks in the street, drug related crimes and more.
During our meeting, I was reassured to learn more about Operation Bluefin, which was launched on March 1 this year, with the primary aim of tackling rising anti-social behaviour in the most affected areas within the borough.
Since its launch, Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Targeted Youth Support Services (TYSS) have patrolled locations across the borough including Leigh town centre.
Mounted officers from GMP Specialist Operations Branch have also been deployed in areas such as Leigh and Platt Bridge, in order to act as a deterrent.
This is good news, but I know that this is just the start of what more needs to be done to tackle local crime and reassure residents that they can feel safe in their local community.
Over the last year, due to COVID-19, my ability to meet with local residents has been reduced, preventing me from holding many of the face to face events I wanted to take place, such as crime meetings with our local policing teams, to provide residents the opportunity to raise their concerns in person with local officers.
Instead, so far I have held a digital crime meeting with residents of the Higher Folds Estate, and already planning future events of this kind in the future, to further the police’s engagement with local residents.
Also, I want residents to feel reassured that the larger problems within GMP, are also being tackled at a national level.
Earlier this year, I and my Conservative colleagues in Greater Manchester met with the Home Secretary, to discuss the news that Greater Manchester Police were being placed under special measures as a result of the more serious failings within the force at a senior level.
One of the driving factors of this was the failure of the iOPS system, computer software implemented by GMP and the Police and Crime Commissioner for officers to log and report crimes, evidence, and more.
This system failed catastrophically, leading to over 80,000 crimes going unreported in the space of 12 months.
This is absolutely shocking and should never have been allowed to happen, but this failure cannot take away from the hard work of our local policing teams on the ground, who I know do all they can to support the local community.
Through my recent meetings with our local policing teams and the Home Secretary, I am now further reassured that through the Government’s intervention, alongside the recruitment of extra police officer, extra funding to tackle serious violent crime and Operation Bluefin, we will begin to see change.
However, as always, both I and local policing teams need to be aware of what is taking place in the local area in order to prevent crime or catch criminals and ensure that justice is done, which is why I urge you all to report any live or ongoing crimes to GMP, through either 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency), or if you are dissatisfied with the way that your report has been handled, to please contact my office so we can investigate this further.
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