Updated: Sunday, 5th April 2020 @ 10:41am

‘Proud to be in Wigan’: Manchester police chiefs praise borough and champion community partnerships

‘Proud to be in Wigan’: Manchester police chiefs praise borough and champion community partnerships

By Colin Henrys

The divisional commander of Wigan paid tribute to the borough as Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd met residents at a public meeting last week.

Mr Lloyd was joined by Sir Peter Fahy, head of Greater Manchester Police, and Chief Superintendent Shaun Donnellan to answer questions on the role of the police in the area.

And Ch Supt Donnellan told the audience – which included youth MPs  and a number of councillors – he was enjoying his time in the borough.

I’m very proud to be here,” he said. “Wigan is a green and pleasant part of Greater Manchester and 99.9% of Wiganers are decent, hardworking folk.

“The people who cause trouble are a very small core of around 300 people.”

Mr Lloyd urged Wigan’s communities to forge closer links with police as they bid to reduce the crime rate further, citing the example of an abused Wigan man as proof it was still an issue.

“It got to the point where [the man] didn’t want to get out of bed,” he explained.

“But police and others intervened and helped him. That shows that anti-social behaviour isn’t ‘low level’ – it causes real problems for people.

“We should use the strength of our communities and the strength of our police force to protect the vulnerable.

“Police officers work best when they are part of their community.”

When quizzed on the future of Wigan’s walking days – under threat due to the cost of policing them – Mr Lloyd admitted finding the balance was difficult however.

“There is a lack of consistency. We want people to be able to do the things that are good for communities,” he said.

“I believe strongly that people ought to be able to come together in our public spaces. How we get that balance is the challenge.”

Funding policing for the walking days is just a small part of the wider issue of police cuts and Sir Peter admitted the force is facing an uncertain period.

“It’s a challenging time for policing,” he told the audience. “We’ve lost 1,800 staff. That’s painful for us and makes our role more challenging.

“We’ve had to change the way we do policing. We’ve concentrated on two things – better neighbourhood teams and working closer with public services, in particular the council.

“We are working hard to join up our efforts.”

The speakers were also quizzed on issues ranging from the use of restorative justice to the cost of transferring Dale Cregan to Preston Crown Court for his ongoing court case.

Mr Lloyd’s next public meeting will be held in Bolton on April 30 as he continues his tour of Greater Manchester.

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