Why GMP’s battle back from the brink could depend on one of these people

Wanted: A top cop to rescue the reputation of a massive police force from a string of high-profile disasters.

When mayor Andy Burnham office places an ad on the recruitment pages for a new chief constable of GMP later this month, it probably won’t use such words, but not many would argue with him if it did.

The force is at its lowest point.

Former chief constable Ian Hopkins was forced out of his £200,000-a-year job just before Christmas following a series of calamities, most tellingly that government inspectors had been through the books and estimated 80,000 crimes hadn’t been recorded in one year.

Ian Hopkins (Image: STEVE ALLEN)

The force’s new computer system, Integrated Operational Policing System (iOPS), has been dogged by problems since it was switched on at a cost of £27m in July 2019, some 19 months behind schedule.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) ruled the iOPS debacle had exposed hundreds of vulnerable people to ‘potential risk of harm’.

And, since the new system went live, the force has been absent from all Home Office reported crime statistics.

The revelations follow years of Manchester Evening News readers complaining of a poor response to everyday crime – and have left GMP’s image in tatters, amongst senior officers, in other parts of the country.

One told the M.E.N: “That force is an injured wildebeest, wandering across the plains, waiting to be picked off by the criminals.”

 

The recruitment of a new chief constable is yet to begin in earnest, although it is believed Mr Burnham’s office is set to appoint a firm of head-hunters to help appoint the right person.

Factoring in the ad, application process and then interviews, GMP probably won’t have a new leader until the spring.

 

But, inside senior police officer circles, a number of names are already emerging.

Top cops at forces all over the country are being talked up as potential candidates, among them a former special constable, an ex Navy man and a number of GMP alumni.

Since its inception in 1973, GMP has had six chief constables, all of them men.

Could that be about to change? Although they are considered outside bets, three senior women police officers are considered credible potential candidates.

One is Vanessa Jardine , who was appointed deputy chief constable of West Midlands Police in June.

The daughter of a copper, she spent 25 years in GMP rising through the ranks, particularly as a detective. She became GMP’s head of public protection before moving out of the force. She says she is ‘passionate about diversity and inclusivity’.

Another is Serena Kennedy , the current deputy chief constable at Merseyside Police. A former detective with GMP, she worked in Wigan, Bolton and Salford before joining Merseyside as an assistant chief constable in 2017.

A vocal champion for women in policing, she later became the force’s first female deputy chief constable.

Merseyside’s deputy chief constable, Serena Kennedy (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Another potential female candidate is Rachel Swann , who has only recently been appointed as the chief constable of Derbyshire Constabulary.

She came to national prominence in 2019 when, as deputy chief of the force, she led the emergency services response when Toddbrook reservoir threatened to collapse and deluge the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge. She oversaw the evacuation of more than 1,500 people.

Derbyshire’s chief constable, Rachel Swann (Image: PA)

Targeted by trolls for her hairstyle, she faced what she called ‘sexist and homophobic’ online abuse.

One top cop who is not expected to throw his hat in is Vanessa Jardine’s boss, chief constable of West Midlands Police Sir Dave Thompson , who was knighted for services to policing in the recent New Year’s Honours.

Manchester-raised Sir Dave, who made his name at GMP – particularly in counter terrorism before heading to the Midlands -will not be applying, the M.E.N. understands.

However, there are a number of credible potential male candidates in senior positions elsewhere in England.

A popular choice among many inside GMP would be Nick Adderley , who became the chief constable of Northamptonshire Police in 2018.

Northamptonshire’s chief constable, Nick Adderley (Image: PUBLICITY PICTURE)

Raised in Moston and Partington, he enjoyed a successful career in the Royal Navy before joining GMP and ascending to become divisional commander of the Tameside division. He won praise for the way he handled the shocking 2012 murder of two of his PCs, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.

Two other heavyweight potential candidates hold the top two positions at South Yorkshire Police.

The chief constable of that force, Stephen Watson , is being talked up by some senior officers as a potential candidate for the top job at GMP.

South Yorkshire Police’s chief constable, Stephen Watson (Image: South Yorkshire Police)

With 28 years in policing behind him, he has served in Lancashire, Merseyside and the Metropolitan Police where he was in charge of nine boroughs.

He was a senior commander during the 2012 London Olympics.

He later joined Durham before landing the top job at South Yorkshire Police.

His deputy at South Yorkshire is another credible candidate, Mark Roberts , who also made his name in GMP. He has a reputation as a no-nonsense cop and still lives in Greater Manchester.

A former senior detective and firearms commander respected by all ranks, he was in charge of the police response to the 2011 riots in Manchester and Salford.

South Yorkshire Police’s deputy chief constable, Mark Roberts

He moved to Cheshire Police in 2014 where he led a restructure of neighbourhood policing which coincided with 25-year low in recorded crime, a feat judged ‘outstanding’ by government inspectors. He is perhaps best known as the national lead for football policing, where his main task is to make sure supporters behave themselves abroad.

Both men are credited with turning round the once-ailing South Yorkshire Police, something Greater Manchester’s king-makers may consider compelling.

Another big-hitter being talked up as a potential chief constable is Craig Guildford , the current chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police.

He is known as a tough task-master who gets things done.

Nottinghamshire Police’s chief constable, Craig Guildford (Image: Nottinghamshire Police)

A former special constable, he started his policing career with Cheshire Police in 1994 before being seconded to Manchester to work with the National Crime Squad.

He re-joined Cheshire where he rose through the ranks before moving to West Yorkshire Police and then Gwent Police.

A firearms commander, he was installed as the chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police in February 2017.

The stakes are high – for the 2.8m people in Greater Manchester and the force’s 11,000 staff. Whoever is installed as the new broom at GMP’s Newton Heath headquarters will know they have quite a job on their hands.

Source: (manchestereveningnews)

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