Written evidence submitted by Greater Manchester Combined Authority submission (COR0093)


Please see below the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s submission of evidence to the Home Affair’s Select Committee inquiry in the Home Office’s preparations for and response to Covid-19.


Domestic abuse and risks of harm within the home


  1. Greater Manchester has been concerned about a possible rise in domestic abuse since the Government issued their ‘stay at home’ advice. However at present, a rise has not yet been seen and reported incidents remain stable. Domestic abuse reports are being monitored closely and discussions have taken place with our domestic abuse helplines to try and understand why reports have not significantly increased. Greater Manchester is working on an awareness and reassurance communications campaign, focusing on emphasising that support is still available and advice on what to do if you are a victim. This campaign will also reinforce that domestic abuse and safety in the home are key priorities for Greater Manchester Police.


  1. A meeting was convened with partners from the Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Partnership Board and the Local Authority Domestic Violence Coordinators to consider issues and concerns that are presenting in relation to domestic abuse, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following this GM has been developing a risk register and action plan which will be owned by the Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Partnership Board, chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.


  1. Partners have informed us that during the current crisis every effort is being made to continue to provide support to victims of domestic abuse. Their offers / planning include:



  1. At a GMCA level work is taking place to support partners as much as possible. Some of the measures being put in place and considered currently are outlined below:









Police and Fire & Rescue Service



  1. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have developed a COVID-19 Strategy. This strategy sits alongside the Integrated Risk Management Plan 2016-20 (IRMP), and the changes agreed as part of the GMFRS Programme for Change. It identifies the changes to service delivery that are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Strategic Priorities for GMFRS during the pandemic are:

  1. Maintain a safe and effective Emergency Response
  2. Ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and help to reduce the risk of infection
  3. Prevent the impact of fire and other emergencies on our communities, adopting a risk based approach
  4. Protect our communities from fire, adopting a risk based approach
  5. Ensure effective business continuity arrangements are in place
  6. Ensure our response is coordinated and integrated with other responding agencies
  7. Monitor and report performance internally and to the Mayor
  8. Maintain an awareness of the changing nature of the pandemic and associated guidance, and adapt our approach accordingly
  9. Evaluate our response to the pandemic and identify lessons learned.


  1. The biggest impact on the public is the change of the Safe and Well visits which are moving from a face-to-face and at home visit to a conversation had over the telephone. This has been done to reduce the risk of infection to firefighters and to the public.


  1. However, a face to face visit will still be provided to the following people:



  1. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has a strategic force policy that sets out the objectives and responsibilities in order to have robust business continuity plans in place that ensure the Force has the capability to not only respond effectively to emergencies but also to continue normal policing functions to agreed minimum service levels.


  1. In order to ensure a formal, coordinated and consistent approach GMP has based its business continuity management on the guidelines issued by HM Government in the Emergency Preparedness Manual 2005, the Business Continuity Institute and the International Standard for Business Continuity Management – ISO 22301    


  1. All GMP Business Continuity Plans are based on a threat/risk analysis as outlined in the GM Local Risk Register and the National Resilience Assessment (NRA).


  1. A force-wide business continuity testing and exercising programme is in place which sets scenarios based on current identified threats and risks to ensure they are fit for purpose and also inform the development and updating of plans, pandemic is one example of a threat/risk that has been regularly used as a scenario to examine the impact and level of resilience resulting from the loss of large numbers of staff. The plans are designed around the premise that in an emergency situation GMP will continue to provide its critical functions outlined below;


  1. Provide Command and Control Structures at Divisional, Branch and Force level and in the event of a major incident incorporate the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme principles (JESIP) and multi-agency coordination. 
  2. Respond to Grade 1 and Grade 2 incidents recognising harm risk and threat, and identifying and dealing with vulnerabilities and safeguarding issues.
  3. Respond to and investigate serious crime.
  4. To provide effective custody and criminal justice processing facilities.


  1. At this time, GMP has not had to reduce down to this position as abstractions and demand have not necessitated this reduced level of service, albeit the reduced level of service would still consider vulnerability and safeguarding issues. Many working practices have changed such as home working and social distancing in the workplace.


  1. Should a large number of officers be off at one time then decisions at Gold and Silver levels would be to reduce the service of lower grade incidents, such as minor crime or calls for assistance that are not deemed not to fall within the above four areas, but this would be a dynamic decision based upon the areas where officers were not available and skillsets available. Business Continuity Plans do address what skills are required as well as potential alternative resources that could be utilised to resource an area of business. Some specialist areas of business may have difficulty in organising alternative resources due to training implications. BC Plans do identify where this may be an issue and many have provision for mutual aid and support from neighbouring forces.



  1. There is a possibility that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) could be compromised indirectly – for example the collapse of a private contractor e.g. prison or telecoms group due to the impact of the virus.  For the purposes of this question I am assuming that this is referring to the risk of person to person transmission. 


  1. GMP co-ordinate through a Regional Information Co-ordination Centre (RICC) where we have access to the availability of resources across our region should it be required. This enables us to draw upon, where necessary, from other forces across the country.  As it currently stands GMP implement a number of working practices to reduce the risk – such as splitting a number of officers across a number of vehicles where they would have previously been in a single personnel carrier, and the use of PPE.


  1. GMP will also continue to consider if the deployment is actually necessary – a number of plans on a national level have been adapted to draw only on the affected force as we look to reduce travel and thus the onward transmission of the virus. 


  1. The co-ordination of intelligence and tension monitoring through the National Police Chiefs Council has enabled GMP to plan and adapt where necessary and to mitigate risks where possible. GMP will review what support they can safely provide - for example logistical or administrative aid reduces the physical movement of staff and therefore freeing local officers to deal with the front line requirements.  Were the Greater Manchester region to enter a state of disorder, the clothing and equipment officers wear provide a measure of defence – such as the full face visor that is on an officer’s helmet. 


  1. As it stands, GMP can still meet their mobilisation requirements.



  1. From a GMP perspective our joint working in well embedded, our Civil Contingencies team are co-located with AGMA at the GMP Force Headquarters.  Our joint working has involved planning, testing and exercising with not just local resilience forums but other partners too.  This work has been reality tested across a number of incidents including large scale fires and the flooding recently seen in the region.  This joint working has included in debriefing incidents, training and contingency planning. 


April 2020