Government customs cuts are being blamed for weapons on Manchester’s streets, following a series of gun and grenade attacks left four dead, including two female police officers yesterday.
Tony Lloyd MP, Labour’s candidate for Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner, described the deaths of Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone as ‘wicked and horrific’.
He praised the work the police have done in reducing the number of weapons and ammunition on the streets, but said government cuts could unravel more than a decade’s work.
“No-one should pretend they can guarantee that something like this could never happen again but we have to make it more difficult,” Mr Lloyd told MM.
“We know that a lot of weapons come in to the UK from abroad but government cuts in customs staff make it more difficult to prevent weapons from ever making it to our communities.”
However, Mr Lloyd rejected the notion that arming our police is the way to solve the issue.
“We certainly should not determine the future of community policing on the back of this tragedy,” he said.
“Community and neighbourhood policing is central to reducing and fighting crime and would not work as well if police officers were routinely armed.
“We know that where the police are armed it does not reduce the number of gun deaths.”
Dale Cregan was GMP’s most-wanted criminal for 39 days after he was hunted in connection with the murder of David and Mark Short in the North Manchester area.
After a £150,000-a-day operation to catch him ended in the deaths of two unarmed police officers, Mr Lloyd was keen to stress that these sorts of incidents are a rarity.
“Fortunately it is very different from anything Greater Manchester Police have had to deal with before with someone who was determined to kill police officers with weapons like grenades that we’ve not previously seen used,” he said.
He also told MM of the concern across Manchester about what Chief Constable Peter Fahy referred to yesterday as a ‘criminal conspiracy’ to hide information of wanted fugitives from police.
“Everyone is bound to be concerned that some people must have known things that could have helped the police make earlier arrests. These people must now be asking themselves about their own responsibility,” he said.
Mr Lloyd is Labour’s Manchester Central MP, who will be vacating his seat in November to stand in the Police Commissioner elections.
Manchester will elect its first Police and Crime Commissioner on November 15.