Freedom of information requests – Greater Manchester Police in Special Measures

To support ongoing journalistic investigations into the well-publicised shortcomings of Greater Manchester Police, two conjoined requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) were made to the Home Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue (HMICFRS) on 13th September, 2021 by Neil Wilby.

Home Office

Please disclose the following information by way of the Freedom of Information Act, the materials requested concern the placing of Greater Manchester Police into ‘Special Measures’ – a decision that appeared to enter the public domain on 19th December, 2020:

1. The dates of any meetings, video or telephone conferences between Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, and/or the Secretary of State and/or the Policing Minister where the subject matter included, inter alia, the performance of Greater Manchester Police, its efficiency or effectiveness, the placing of the force into Special Measures.

The relevant period is 1st July, 2020 until 31st August, 2021

2. Any letter, email or briefing note relating to same.

The relevant period is 1st July, 2020 until 31st December, 2020.


Please disclose, by way of the Freedom of Information Act, the following:

(i) the dates and the nature of the inspections planned to take place, or have taken place, at Greater Manchester Police in the period 1st July, 2021 and 30th June, 2022

(ii) Please disclose any correspondence between HMICFRS and either the Mayor of Greater Manchester, his Deputy or his Deputy Director of Policing, or the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, relating to such inspections.


Both requests were acknowledged on 14th September, 2021 and indicated that a response would be provided by 12th October, 2021. Under FOIA public authorities should reply PROMPTLY and in any event within 20 working days. That was not mentioned in either reply.

Updates will be posted as and when those responses are received. 


These disclosure requests are the first in what is likely to be at least a two, and possibly, three stage process. The problems at Greater Manchester Police appear to be getting worse by the day, week and month despite copious public relations attempts to project a much better picture. It is, on any independent view, the worst force in the country by some distance.

A new chief constable, Stephen Watson, delivered what is termed a forward improvement plan to the Greater Manchester Mayor on 10th September, 2021 at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (read the plan here). It follows in the wake of the most damning report ever delivered about police leadership and their collective failings.

It was produced by consultants PwC in March 2021, at the request of the Mayor made two months earlier. Every attempt to extract the report from the Mayor’s office prior to the elections in May, 2021 failed. It can now be read in full here.

Criminal complaints

GMP is also, very arguably, the worst police force in the country in terms of responding to disclosure request and is, presently and after a lengthy and unexplained delay, in a special monitoring scheme overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office. A recent and shocking example of the class and extent of those failings can be seen here. It is now subject to a second criminal complaint under section 77 of the Act as it is alleged that information is being deliberately withheld.

Page last updated: Wednesday 15th September, 2021 at 1325 hours

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Picture credit:  HMICFRS

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2021. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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