This week will mark the one-year anniversary of an inspection report that would go on to have far-reaching repercussions.

When the police watchdog found Greater Manchester Police had failed to record an estimated 80,000 crimes in the previous year, its conclusions would see the force placed into special measures, its Chief Constable replaced and the mayor facing difficult questions.

One year on, the story is far from over.

At the end of November the mayor and his deputy, Baroness Beverley Hughes, held their first meeting to allow councillors and MPs to grill both themselves and senior command.

READ MORE:Ex-GMP officer says 'I will never trust the police again'

It is a model used by the Greater London Authority in relation to the Metropolitan Police.

Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, said: "We had been holding the previous Chief Constable to account behind closed doors, which is what police and crime commissioners do, day to day.

"Bev does that every day on my behalf but I do at least once or twice a week every week, but we were both conscious that the process of accountability had not been publicly visible and therefore perhaps people couldn’t see that and it didn’t have the level of understanding and possibly trust that we needed in it.

Andy Burnham

“So it was clear to us that we needed to strengthen the process of public accountability of police in Greater Manchester.”

Turnout was not overwhelming in person, with few more than a dozen politicians - including only one MP - actually there, although some others tuned in online.

But those that did attend managed to cover a wide range of concerns, including invisible neighbourhood policing, loss of trust, a rise in speeding, the 101 number and knife crime among young people, which Oldham MP Jim McMahon said was partly playing out in ‘postcode’ gang wars.

For GMP’s part, the force provided some new statistics.

Arrests are now up 25pc on where they were this time last year, said the Chief Constable, who said that while arrests are not in and of themselves a measure of success, they had been particularly low in GMP previously.

This is a symptom, he said, of not tackling or recording crime properly. It is now attending 92pc of burglaries, up from 70pc a year ago.

Also, 999 call waiting times are now down from 30 seconds this time last year to 22 seconds, although that is still short of the 10 second target.

Plus 101 waits are down on the summer - when they rocketed to an average eight minutes - to three minutes 47 seconds, but are still slightly longer than this time last year. The target is 30 seconds.

An arrest has been made over the taxi driver attack in Redditch

One of the Chief’s first moves when arriving at the force was to request £3.5m to replace the force’s broken fleet, which has paid for 167 new response vehicles.

The M.E.N. reported in October how officers had been having to use hire cars due to the state of their cars.

Crime recording has increased in its accuracy, while the number of ‘open’ priority incidents - those waiting to be looked at by an officer, a major concern when the inspectorate returned in September - has halved in two months.

Some topics were not mentioned at all, either in the progress report or the meeting in Oldham civic centre, such as the troubled computer system iOPS, which the force and mayor's office have been reviewing. In early September the Chief had promised a decision 'within weeks', but none has so far been announced.

Politicians on Friday did have a range of other concerns, however. Here are some of the key issues that emerged from the meeting.

‘Postcode wars’

Senior command and the mayoralty were grilled about knife crime, particularly among young people.

Knife crime does not feature in the force’s update on performance and the force was not included in the government’s latest national statistics on knife crime offences, after several years of issues with its data, meaning reliable comparisons are hard to come by.

However multiple school, college and education figures have told the M.E.N. how knife crime is increasingly a major worry and we recently reported on the way such violence has blighted the community in Moston.

Oldham MP Mr McMahon was among those to warn of the seriousness of the situation.

A stock image of a knife

“In Oldham we’ve seen more than our fair share of young people carrying knives, young people carrying out attacks, and also what is pretty clearly postcode wars.

"Some of which by the way is escalating within schools through Whatsapp-type groups and the rest of it that ultimately then finds itself on the street with the very real consequences that cases.,” he said.

“What can we do to reduce knife crime and the carrying of knives amongst young people, in particular, but also the gang mentality that makes young people choose a side with all that comes with that?”

He also wanted to know what was being done to prevent young people falling into criminality in the first place, warning he would ‘like to see a more concerted effort in Oldham’.

It was a point echoed by Bolton councillor Sue Hawarth, who warned of ‘feuding between groups and individuals where people are being murdered or are lucky to survive’.

“When is a reduction in violence going to be seen? Is it going to get worse before it gets better? And is this prioritised by the police and crime commissioner?”

Senior command did not respond directly but the mayor and deputy said Greater Manchester’s violence reduction unit, which has been boosted by £3.5m of Home Office funding, was already ‘paying dividends’.

Moss Side, where community efforts to reduce knife crime 'are paying dividends'

“We’ve piloted what we’ve called a community led approach to this, where we empower community organisations to work at that level to share intelligence to work with young people,” said Mr Burnham.

“We had a very direct approach from a group of organisations in Moss Side, who asked for support to develop a community led approach and there are a couple of other pilots alongside them.

“We met them a fortnight ago to check in on how they’re getting on and it was extremely encouraging what we heard. Start with communities, trust them.

“The intelligence is in those communities as to who the individuals are who are opposing the greatest risk and if you work with them as well as providing positive pathways for those young people to providing opportunities within the organisations or beyond, that seems to be bearing some dividend.”

He said the move was not a ‘fluffy’ one.

“In a place like Moss Side, it’s actually delivering something and we intend to build these pilots and maybe establish this as a principle we take across GM.”

Domestic violence: a 'volume crime'

Politicians were similarly worried about the scale of Greater Manchester’s domestic abuse crisis.

“What are we specifically doing to bring people on board and report and have confidence again?”, asked Bolton Coun Rabiya Jiva, pointing out that previous assessments of GMP have been ‘damning’ on this front.

Again, there is no specific mention of domestic abuse activity in the force’s progress report, although one officer told the M.E.N. that such demand is currently ‘out of control’.

While there has been a rise in burglary attendances, they said, that was not so much the case for domestic abuse.

Responding, Baroness Hughes said the issue was ‘absolutely top priority’ both for her and the mayor.

“As horrendous as it seems, this is now a volume crime in Greater Manchester,” she said.

“There are almost 50,000 reports of domestic abuse come into GMP per year.

So it’s a massive demand on the police and yet we don’t do well enough, I don’t think, in terms of the response we give to victims.”

One potential move is to agree with housing providers and local authorities that ‘rather than the woman and the child having to leave the house, which is what happens at the moment, we find alternative accommodation for the man, and the woman and the children can stay in the house where they’re living’, she said.

Baroness Hughes

However the issues could not be dealt with by a ‘quick fix’, she said, adding that they come down to ‘deep-seated attitudes and culture that says it’s okay to abuse women’.

“As well as doing all the things we need to do in terms of more effective policing, more effective work with perpetrators, more effective support for victims of abuse, you actually have to address the underlying attitudes and culture that we have in society.”

The mayor said it was ‘on men and boys to change their behaviour’, pointing to an ‘overly macho culture in some of our communities’..

“It’s about men, lads, boys calling each other out,” he said, adding that there would be a campaign around that in the New Year, which was being brought forward..

‘Confidence has been lost so dramatically, people are not calling’

After listening to the force explain where some performance had improved, Bolton councillor Rabyia Jiva - herself a former member of police civilian staff in Lancashire - said trust had not yet been won back.

“As you are saying in the last three months we have seen progress, unfortunately in the borough of Bolton, the public confidence has been lost so dramatically that...people are now refraining from calling the police,” she said.

“My question around this is how are we going to build confidence by engaging the community around neighbourhood policing teams?”

She said she had been trying to work with her local policing team, but that the foundation of the police’s relationship with communities had been ‘damaged and fractured’.

When, she wanted to know, would Bolton see more visibility and community engagement?

Rochdale councillor Billy Sheerin, who represents Castleton, made a similar point.

Castleton in Rochdale

While there hasn’t been a rise in serious crime in his area, there has been a rise in anti-social behaviour.

“There is no police presence, no deterrent, and the elderly are reluctant to go out at night.

"We used to have packed meetings - policing and community together meetings. And they were very good.

"But because of the lack of police officers, they don’t turn up, so the meetings don’t happen.”

Unless neighbourhood policing is fixed, he said, ‘the rogues who are roaming our streets will still feel as though they’re in control’.

The Chief Constable said he had ‘no doubt’ there would be people ‘who have got fed up and are not ringing GMP’, although he pointed out that nonetheless, the phone is still ringing ‘off the hook’.

A consultation will be launched in the New Year, he said, to find out what people in different areas want from neighbourhood policing.

“The way to hook that demand into increased confidence is to respond better to it," he said, adding that the force’s plans for neighbourhood policing should ‘address that point’.

“The problem we have at the moment is most of our neighbourhood officers are being used as a secondary response function,” he added.

This means they are being pulled out to respond to incidents not being dealt with in other parts of the force, “which is why they’re not there to attend meetings, which is why they’re not seen, which is why they’re not upstream of things and is why we’re getting busier and busier and busier.”

Chief Constable Stephen Watson

Essentially, he said, he was in ‘violent agreement’ with Coun Sheerin.

“We’re on the same page.

"I think the issue around whatever the forum of engagement is - and I’d reference the fact this will come out of the neighbourhood policing review - I do think we need to set back in train a very clear sense amongst everybody of who your team is, how you get in touch with them, how you can communicate with them.

“We are absolutely committed not to just saying to the public that if you have a particular problem in a particular area the only option available to you is to ring 101 or 999.”

‘101 is a wheel of fortune’

One of the major criticisms levelled at GMP the public and by inspectors - both last year and in September, when it warned public safety was now at risk - is still the state of the 101 number.

Latest figures do show that there has been a reduction in wait times from their eye-watering high in the summer, but they are still more than ten times longer than they are meant to be.

Stockport councillor Mark Roberts welcomed plans for further investment in call handlers, but warned the system GMP had been using was part of the problem.

“I understand that the current software means that when somebody calls, they go into a queue that actually operates like a loop - and so if you’re unlucky, you could be in that loop for some time while you wait for an operator to be able to answer," he said.

“It makes no sense to me why we have that system, so will that software be changing and when might we be seeing that?”

The Chief Constable confirmed this was the case, saying they ‘anticipate’ that tin the New Year it will be resolved with a new system.

“The technology will assist us in removing that issue, because you’re right, because the calls have been on a bit of a carousel - which sounds a bit mad because for me.

"You’d hope you would answer number one first, then number two, number three, whereas actually you could never get answered - because your wheel of fortune doesn’t come round at the right time," he said. "Well that’s nuts, isn’t it?

“So we anticipate being able to fix that in the New Year.”

Later in the meeting, Coun Roberts returned to the point, during a session on accountability.

“I agree with him entirely,” he said of the Chief’s comment that the 101 system is ‘nuts’.

“This should have been weeded out had proper scrutiny taken place.

“So what will you be doing differently? Are we likely to see pre-decision scrutiny at GM moving forward?”

Mr Burnham insisted that he and the deputy mayor had been doing scrutiny behind closed doors since 2017, ‘uncovering’ issues over a number of years, including historic Child Sexual Exploitation, a review into the failing computer system iOPS and the eventual departure of the last Chief Constable, which happened after the inspectorate reported back last December.

He did not answer the question about ‘pre-decision’ scrutiny - in other words, whether councillors will have the chance to ask questions before a major decision is made - but added: “We had done our job with scrutiny to get us to the point where we knew we had to make the change, because it wasn't just a... we’d been building to this.

“However, we also recognised there was more that needed to be done to strengthen the process of public accountability.”

That had led to that day’s meeting, he said.

More speed cameras on the cards, twice as many traffic cops...

Multiple councillors, including Oldham’s Chris Gloster and Manchester’s Mandie Shilton-Godwin, asked about the level of speeding on Greater Manchester’s roads, particularly the need for more ANPR cameras and more traffic cops.

It was a question answered head-on by the force’s new Deputy Chief, Terry Woods, who sounded unimpressed by what he had found when arriving from Lancashire earlier this year.

“Are we going to invest in it? Yes we are absolutely,” he said of road policing.

Depiuty Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Terry Woods

“I’ve already been very vocal in GMP, having a background in road policing. My first look at the force, I was very, very surprised in the low numbers of road policing officers in the force.”

He added: “I think it’s safe to say we will be doubling the number of road policing officers very shortly. That doesn’t take us to a really high level, but it’s a good investment and we can make a real difference.”

He also said Greater Manchester had ‘work to do’ on its speed camera presence, adding that ‘it feels that speed is an issue’.

The problem had been in the ‘top two or three’ at every meeting he had done with councils and noted that in other parts of the country, ‘there’s a lot more infrastructure’ to control the speed of cars.

“So I do think there’s something with cameras that we need to look at as a partnership.”

Mr Burnham also suggested he would also be keen to see more cameras.

“Personally, I know it’s not a popular thing but think we do need a review of our speed cameras - I would like personally to see more - and a refresh of the locations," he said.

"But I think the Dep is really clear more use of average mobile speed enforcement and ANPR, that’s what we would encourage to be done, so a combination of fixed and more mobile.”

...and clean air zone cameras could be used for speeding - but not yet

The mayor ruled out using the new cameras introduced to monitor the forthcoming Clean Air Zone, however. But only for the time being.

ANPR cameras will monitor vehicles for the Clean Air Zone

Coun Gloster had asked whether it might not make sense to use that infrastructure to catch speeding drivers, since it is already there.

Mr Burnham pointed out that the Clean Air Zone will not apply to private car drivers, however, so he did not want to confuse matters.

“I have to come in to put a note of caution here, in that the cameras that are coming in for the Clean Air Zone are for a very clear purpose at this moment in time - for the enforcement of the CAZ, ie, 'is the vehicle compliant or not compliant' in relation to that zone.

“And of course it doesn’t include private cars,” he said.

“So what I don’t want to allow at this stage is a session of mission creep about that infrastructure to keep public understanding clear and trust clear in the CAZ.

“At this stage it very much has to be very focused on that primary purpose.”

Nevertheless, he said, he would be willing to think about it further down the line, although there would have to be a consultation in that event.

“I would at some point consider - if there was a public consent to use that infrastructure for other purposes - I wouldn’t say no to that consideration.

“But at this point in time it’s important to say those cameras would be used for that primary purpose and that primary purpose only.”

‘It’s a wee bit GDR’

Oldham MP Mr McMahon, the only parliamentarian in attendance, said Oldham’s justice system had been hammered again and again over more than a decade.

Would, he asked, the Chief Constable provide a new police station to replace the current one, which is ‘past its sell by date’?

“Through the course of 11 years of austerity Oldham has been hit very hard when it comes to policing and justice,” he said.

“We’ve lost our magistrates court, our county court, police stations have closed in Failsworth, in Chadderton, in Royton and we’ve lost police posts in Limeside as well.

“And all that really hits at the heart of whether people really feel they can see justice being served in their town.

"Now, we have our remaining police station here, but you’ll know the custody cells remain closed. I know there was a commitment to reopen Bolton’s custody cells, which I think is to be welcomed, but frankly the physical layout of Oldham police station does not allow for the reopening of the custody cells, because of the health and safety implications of taking prisoners upstairs.

Oldham police station

“I think it would show a real commitment to the people of Oldham if plans were brought forward not just for the refurbishment of a police station that frankly is beyond its sell by date, but for a brand new town centre police station with full custody facilities as part of that.”

The Chief did not go as far as promising a new police station, although he compared the existing building to East Germany during the Cold War.

“I absolutely take the point - it’s a wee bit like the former GDR, isn’t it? It’s not pretty, and it definitely is in need of doing up.

“It’s not a great building, it’s not great for our people to work in, and it has the limitations that come with a building of that vintage.

“What I'm so tempted to do is say ‘of course we’ll just build a new police station’, but you will know this is a ton of money that we possibly don’t yet have.

“But, we absolutely are as part and parcel of the whole estate looking fresh at what we’ve got, not least because we’re looking at custody facilities as well.”