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Greater Manchester Police is ‘good’ at tackling serious and organised crime, inspectors have concluded – but there is still room for improvement. The police force has been praised for freezing bank accounts and confiscating assets of criminals in the city-region. Inspectors also said Operation Vulcan, which launched last year with the aim of taking on more than 30 organised crime groups in Cheetham Hill, is ‘promising’. However, the report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) says that GMP needs to boost its capacity by filling vacancies in specialist roles and training officers recruited since the inspection. It comes a year after GMP came out of special measures when inspectors, who slammed the force for failing to record 80,000 crimes, said it had improved. The latest report published today (November 10) now praises GMP’s response to serious and organised crime. READ MORE: How Greater Manchester Police dragged itself out of special measures READ MORE: Today’s top Manchester Evening News stories The chilling reality of organised crime and drugs gangs operating across Greater Manchester was laid bare in harrowing detail last week as the BBC Two crime documentary series The Detectives gave a graphic insight into one such gang in Rochdale. The cameras followed the valiant and ultimately successful work of a specialised Greater Manchester Police team to bring down ‘The Adam’ gang. The second largest police force in the country has now been recognised by inspectors at HMICFRS for its ‘significant improvements’ on this front. In particular, the economic crime unit was praised for successfully targeting criminals’ finances, recovering £13.7m last year. In another operation, the force seized £16m of fraudulently obtained cryptocurrency. GMP’s cybercrime team is also praised for developing an innovative process to return most of this money to victims and sharing this with the national cybercrime network. Operation Vulcan, which launched in autumn 2022, was also highlighted as ‘promising practice’. The operation aims to tackle the issues resulting from the sale of counterfeit goods, such as modern slavery, enforced labour, sexual exploitation, money laundering, serious violent crime and the sale of illicit medicines in Cheetham Hill and has since expanded to tackle the problems at Piccadilly Gardens. Funds confiscated from criminals have paid for a dedicated team working on this operation. According to the report, HMICFRS were told by focus groups that there is no longer any open drug dealing in the area and the sale of counterfeit goods has been eradicated. Operation Avro – the force-wide blitz on crime which is carried out in a different area each month – is also said to have had an impact on organised crime. GMP said this has led to 600 arrests, the seizure of 250 vehicles and the recovery of nearly £2m in drugs and cash. However, inspectors said GMP still needs to improve its capacity to tackle serious and organised crime. When the inspection took place, the force had a ‘significant number’ of vacant posts in specialist roles responsible for investigating serious and organised crime. At the time, the vacancy rate stood at 28 per cent, including some in the force surveillance team, which was criticised for not having an ‘on-call’ capability. The unit is now fully staffed after the force recruited unqualified officers with plans to train them while in post. HMICFRS welcomed this development, but said that it is likely that it will take time for new officers to become fully competent. The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit has also been inspected by HMICFRS alongside all police forces operating in the region. The work of the regional unit is rated ‘outstanding’, while other police forces in the region ranged from outstanding to inadequate. Responding to the report, GMP said it welcomed the recognition of the ‘huge steps’ taken by the force to improve its response to serious and organised crime. Detective Superintendent Joe Harrop, who is GMP’s Head of Serious and Organised Crime, said that this had led to a 70 per cent decrease in firearms discharges in five years and a 42 per cent decrease in homicides in the last year alone. Since the beginning of the year, GMP’s dedicated County Lines team has recorded the recovery of more than 20kg of drugs and 43 weapons from the streets of Greater Manchester, 194 arrests, 142 charges, and the sentencing of 27 offenders to a combined total of 95 years imprisonment. Safeguarding services have also prevented 72 vulnerable children and young people from coming to harm. DSupt Harrop said: “This is welcome recognition for the force and the team – in recent years, we have taken huge steps forward on our journey to improve the response to serious and organised crime. Whilst we have previously been able to evidence progress using data – such as the 70 per cent decrease in firearms discharges in five years and a 42 per cent decrease in homicides in the last year, HMIC’s report recognises that we have improved our assessment of threat and our understanding of the roles of ourselves and partners.” He added: “Whilst responding to incidents and investigating crime is a large part of what we do, we are absolutely committed to stopping offenders in their tracks and early intervention to prevent vulnerable people becoming victims. Through our local Challenger teams and Complex Safeguarding Hubs, we are intrinsically linked with partner agencies who help us identify those who are at risk and engage with them in an efficient way which effectively reduces risk.”

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