Written evidence submitted by Baroness Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester (POP0014)


1. As Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester (GM), with responsibility for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice, I am responding to the call for evidence on policing priorities.


2. As you will be aware, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is the 3rd largest police force in England and Wales and, along with London and the West Midlands, is one of the most challenging of city regions to police. For example, over 10% of demands on the police service for England and Wales comes from GM, despite being home to just 5% of the population.


3. I agree with the premise of the Home Affairs Select Committee that public trust has been eroded in the police. However, this needs to be seen in the wider context of erosion of trust in the quality of justice, as well as with public institutions more generally.


4. Whilst the call for evidence points towards recent events in the Metropolitan police, the impact of events in the capital impacts on trust and perceptions across the country as it calls into question whether these practices are common across all forces. This is why I felt that it was important to respond to the call for evidence on behalf of GM. My responses to the questions posed by the Select Committee are below.


What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like


5. Representative of communities - to retain legitimacy in the eyes of the public the makeup of the police needs to be representative of the communities that we serve. Whist GMP have made good progress in this regard more still needs to be done to attract women, people from ethnic and unrepresented groups and Black recruits in-particular and ensure that there is the right culture and opportunities for career progression. This remains a key challenge for all police forces as articulated in the NPCC/APCC Police Race Action Plan published in May.


6. Attracts and retains good staff the police service needs to attract and retain talent. Home Office figures show that attrition rates have doubled in the past decade. We need to think differently and creatively about how we retain staff, including women who may leave policing due to family demands, and recruits from minority communities. The gaps in experienced officers and in front line supervision is also a challenge as more police staff leave the force early or are promoted quickly. Not only are the demands of modern-day policing very challenging for the pay but police officers do not always feel supported or valued. One example of this was the government’s treatment of police officers during the Covid-19 pandemic whereby frontline officers were not prioritised for vaccination.


7. Understands and responds to the current and future demand generators - a police force can only be effective if it understands the current and future demand generators and how to respond to these. This should include understanding the impact of wider societal change and the impact of rising inequality on policing and the interdependency with other services. For example, a large proportion of police demand has mental health as an underlying cause. Understanding this and finding solutions with partners to respond to mental health crisis is one of the biggest challenges faced by the police. Investment in areas such as mental health would in turn have a huge impact on policing demands and enable the police to focus on its core functions of tackling and preventing crime. The HMICFRS Inspection regime needs to consider more joint inspections across public services to be able to assess the interdependencies between policing and wider public services and focus on outcomes for people and victims.


8. Investment in the criminal justice system- the increase in police officers also needs to correspond with investment in the criminal justice system. GMP are making good progress in higher detection rates and more arrests but if the rest of the criminal justice system isn’t geared up to manage the increase, then public confidence will continue to fall. This is particularly true for rape and sexual assault cases. Likewise, the CPS also need to be held to account alongside the police on how they improve victim experience.


9. Responds to new and evolving crime types - Police forces must continually adapt to keep ahead of crime. Fraud and on-line crime are the fastest rising crime types in England and Wales and have been exacerbated during the pandemic, but this gets little national attention, or resources, for the scale of the problem.  The rise in on-line harms is also extremely concerning yet the government has delayed the On-line Safety Bill.


10. Has the right infrastructure - To be fit for the 2020s and beyond the police need to have the right fleet, equipment, and IT infrastructure to do the job and keep ahead of criminals as well as to improve their environmental credentials. This is an area where government could provide additional support/advice.


11. Continues to do the basics right and protect victims whilst policing needs to modernise it needs to do so whilst ensuring that it has the basics right and does what the public expects them to do. The GMP Improvement Plan reflects this and is focussed on ‘fighting crime, preventing crime, keeping people safe and supporting victims.’ This includes embedding the Victims Code of Practice (VCOP) and improving the response to vulnerable victims especially domestic abuse victims and those who have experienced rape / serious sexual assault. This will help improve confidence in policing – particularly from women. Government should also revisit whether misogyny should be classed as a hate crime and whether other legislative action is required to address largely unreported crime such as public sexual harassment.


What balance police forces in England and Wales should strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions


12. As is the case with all public services, prevention is better than cure and given the costs incurred from someone entering the criminal justice system, it is logical that prevention of crime continues to be a primary role of the police.


13. Police forces need to be close to communities to be able to prevent crime and ASB. We therefore need to invest in good quality, visible and professional neighbourhood policing teams. In Greater Manchester we want to readdress the balance towards more prevention by investing in more neighbourhood police officers through the uplift programme, minimising abstractions of neighbourhood officers for response duties and professionalising how the teams work and problem solve with partners.


14. More could be done to actively pursue under-reported crime, such as sexual harassment – this would send a positive message to victims of these crimes. Investment in good analytical capabilities is essential to develop effective prevention and pursue tactics.


15. Crime prevention is not the sole responsibility of the police and partners such as local authorities, housing providers, health, schools and community and voluntary sector providers have a huge role to play. At least 40% of calls to GMP have mental health as an underlying cause. Arguably, investment in mental health and drug and alcohol provision could be the most impactful way of preventing crime and ASB in our communities.


16. Prevention also means intervening much earlier and engaging people at the right point in their lives (particularly the young).  The work of multi-agency Violence Reduction Units are vital to achieving this. Schemes such as hospital navigators working with young people seriously injured through violence when in hospital has proved successful in this regard.

17. More local, national, and regional attention needs to be paid towards the prevention of fraud which is the highest rising crime in the UK. GMP has a good track record of preventing repeat victims of fraud through their Cyber and Economic Crime Awareness service but there is potential to do so much more. We ask that government do a review of fraud to understand the scale of the issue and the potential to increase prevention.


18. There are low numbers of investigative outcomes for many crime types. It is therefore important that the police get upstream of offences, and intensify their efforts to prevent crime, in partnership with other agencies and emanations of the state and the public.


What roles police forces should prioritise


19. Good quality supervision and more supervisory positionsAs detailed above, policing increasingly lacks experienced officers and there are gaps in supervision – this can create issues in performance, culture, and trust which we have seen play out in police misconduct. We need to prioritise effective supervision and oversight of investigations and file build for the CPS and compliance with the Victims Code of Practice and National Crime Recording Standards etc. Having the right kind of supervision and leadership is vital for ensuring the right cultures.


20. Importance of staff roles – Despite the recruitment of 20,000 police officers, most forces still need to make savings; the funding from the uplift programme is ring-fenced, meaning that forces will have to make cuts elsewhere. We are concerned about replacing specialist roles carried out by police staff with police officers. This puts forces’ effectiveness and efficiency at risk. Police forces including GMP struggle to attract and retain good analytical, project management, HR, and control room staff – these are all essential to enable forces to modernise and transform. Wages and career progression routes for staff roles need to be considered. Forces must continue to build on their wellbeing provision and take preventative measures, especially for people in high-risk and high-demand roles, including those in the control room.


21. Detective constable roles - The Home Office should undertake a review of the role of the detective constable. This should identify appropriate incentives, career progression and support for police officer and police staff investigators to encourage this career path. It should include specific recommendations to ensure there is adequate capacity and capability in every force to investigate rape cases thoroughly and effectively.


What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards


22. Neighbourhood policing teams are key to gaining trust and confidence in communities. They need to be ‘protected’ for this function, not abstracted to response and professionalised. PCs and PCSOs must be given the right training on how to work with partners and communities to carry out the role.


23. Our GM policing and community safety survey shows that trust and confidence in policing is not the same across all ages and communities. This is also reflected in feelings of safety. Police forces need to work even harder and more creatively with communities (including Black communities and others experiencing inequalities) where trust is poor. This should include innovative approaches such as co-locating with other partners and working hand in hand with more trusted partners including the community and voluntary sector. The GM VRU community pilot scheme is a good example of this where local voluntary organisations and groups look into the causes of violence and deliver schemes such as peer mentoring, alongside building aspirations through music and projects that support local young people.

24. Good volunteer schemes can assist community policing. As well as getting additional resources to support with certain operations, this can also build trust. One example is the Community Speedwatch Scheme where volunteers are recruited to play an active part in reducing speeds in their local community – a growing public concern in our city region and nationally. Proceeds of crime funding needs to have clear and simple processes in place to enable local police to invest back into local community projects.


25. Where standards fall below those expected of police officers, awareness needs to be raised that these matters will be reviewed efficiently and robustly by the relevant Professional Standards Department. The complaints and misconduct systems are complex to navigate, leaving the public unsure of the role of the police, the IOPC and PCCs in that oversight role. Work needs to be done to raise this awareness and improve reporting channels to raise these concerns. Senior officers need to take ownership of concerns raised on their area and manage/escalate appropriately.


What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies including the Crown Prosecution Service.


26. The systematic under resourcing of criminal justice systems is letting victims and vulnerable people down. Backlogs in the courts need to be addressed as this impacts on conviction rates and damages trust in the justice system. The current estimates suggest there will still be a backlog until at least November 2024. Conviction rates are of course also linked to the shortage of criminal barristers.


27. The relationship between the Police and CPS could be strengthened. As one example, I have undertaken an End-To-End review of Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) exposing a ‘ping-pong’ case preparation culture in policing and CPS signified by:


28. It is important to state that good examples have also been found of clear, concise, and strategic tasking and that locally there is a desire to jointly improve. A pilot will be starting on one of our policing divisions to work through in real time a model of Rape case management up to First Hearing. We will be happy to share these findings in future.


29. There is no perfect victim. That said, it is not unreasonable to identify areas a jury might question but then mitigate them with an effective prosecution strategy. It became clear through the review, that what initially looked like low levels of prosecution from the police was actually in part, a cultural response to frustration with ongoing and complicated CPS action plans. As GMP are improving their response and more cases are going forward for prosecution and file triage rates are going in the right direction, however the CPS charging rate is around 44% for Rape. It has been discovered that although policy states such, there is no clear escalation policy to the CPS andthis is now being rectified in Greater Manchester.


30. It is recommended that simplified guidance with underpinning principles to ‘Get Trial Ready’ is developed for Police and CPS through:

a)      A clear escalation protocol is in place allowing for the police to track challenges to CPS decisions. There is one in place for the CPS to refer back to the police and a balanced approach needs to be embedded to improve police confidence.

b)      That consideration is given to a Trauma Driven approach. We have seen examples where a lawyer states – ‘the victim was not upset’. A lawyer observing a taped interview cannot possibly have the insight into the operation of a victim’s mind, moreover, this lacks the understanding of trauma on a victim. It is not unfair to state – the victim did not appear visibly upset but this can often be the case for people suffering from trauma. It is often not enough to simply deliver ‘Trauma Informed’ training without a clear call to action. It must be clear what lawyers are expected to do in a practical sense.

c)      Early Advice needs to be agile and flexible. If effectively, near full case preparation is required, it simply will not be used yet the principle of Early Advice is sound in order to Get Trial Ready.

d)      Consideration of allowing expert advisers on trauma to be able to input into cases / trials. This may be controversial but there needs to be recognition that personal harm crimes are those most impacted by poor prosecution rates and disclosure requirements – all measures will just be marginal unless the justice system changes.  For RASSO -most victims recorded as ‘Don’t Support’ -do so within a week of a report to the police and coming into contact with the justice system. They walk away and access to justice is damaged.



I hope that the above is helpful for the Call for Evidence and I am happy to be contacted to provide further detail/evidence on any of the points raised above.


October 2022