Greater Manchester Police union chief criticises force's flawed computer system

The chairman of Greater Manchester Police's Federation has criticised the force's iOPS computer system, which has been blamed for failing to record around 80,000 crimes.

Speaking exclusively to ITV News, Stu Berry said that the rationale for fitting the system was right, but that 18 months on from it first being installed that it still isn't working properly.

He said: "I think most people understand that we needed to move forward and move with the times and move with technology but unfortunately we find ourselves in a position 18 months in after we've commenced the system that we're almost retrofitting it on the go to make it do the things that we wanted it to do on day one.

"I mean, a simple analogy I can explain to you is what we needed was an Audi Quattro and unfortunately at the moment for the front end user it feels that we've got a Vauxhall Cavalier."

GMP has been the subject of much criticism in recent years, from its response to the Manchester Arena attack to being placed in 'Special Measures' by a government agency in December.

The move into special measures by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Services was prompted by the failings of the iOPS logging system and resulted in the resignation of Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

Stu Berry has said that officers in GMP are exhausted from policing the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: ITV News

Mr Berry also spoke about how officers are exhausted from policing covid regulations on-top of their regular work this year.

"There are still the same amount of crimes, still the same amount of calls, the thousands of people that ring us every day that still need our assistance, all that has not gone away, this is on top of all those things," he said.

"So when you hear the headlines from government and other sources saying there is extra police officers being drafted in, there are no extra police officers, you know they don't just turn up with a uniform the next morning and are on for parade.

"There are no extra police officers, it's the same police officers working longer hours and more days. And over time it exhausts them and has an effect on their physical and mental wellbeing."

Mr Berry criticised the length of investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which he said "physically and emotionally damaged" officers.

He added: "I don't feel they [The IOPC] have the appropriate expertise and experience within that organisation to understand the role of the police service, the decisions that we have to make under pressure, the dangers that we face that lead to the decisions that we make.

"Quite rightly we should be scrutinised, we are heavily scrutinised, but it seems to me that organisation is not listening." 

Credit: ITV News

Assistant Chief Constable from Greater Manchester Police, Chris Sykes, said: "GMP acknowledges the findings of the HMIC report and continues to address the issues it raised in respect of crime recording and our service to victims.

"We recognise the impact the report had on the morale of our hard-working officers, coming as it did during an already difficult period when the force was dealing with the unique impacts and pressures of the pandemic."

On the issues caused by iOPS he said: "We had to replace our very old legacy computer systems and we went live with iOPS in July 2019. This was a huge technological challenge and we have always acknowledged how difficult this has been for our officers and staff.

"Since launch we have seen significant improvements in many parts of the system, and we continue to listen to our staff who provide us with valuable feedback.

"We have recently improved the search capability of iOPS and are very focussed on a plan to improve the speed iOPS processes information - something we know has been a particular concern for our colleagues.

"We are confident the system is effective at recording crime submitted by our officers and staff."

A spokesperson for the IOPC said: "The IOPC has made significant achievements in improving the timeliness of investigations and many of the delays which can occur are outside of our control.

"Since becoming the IOPC, we’ve completed more than 1,350 investigations and 90 per cent are now completed within 12 months."

"Our investigators are qualified, professionals – they come from a diverse range of backgrounds including the military, other regulators, the legal profession, probation staff and some are ex-police.

"All our staff undertake rigorous training and are awarded appropriate accreditation to ensure that they’re equipped with the right skills to help meet the high standards we strive to achieve as an organisation."