New chief sets out his stall

Screenshot 2021-11-05 at 11.58.16

Recently appointed District Commander, Chief Superintendent Chris Bowen, made a scheduled appearance at this month’s meeting of Full Council in Oldham – and what a breath of fresh air it was, writes Neil Wilby.

A proud South Walean, but adopted by God’s Own County for university education and his entire career, C/Supt Bowen joined Greater Manchester Police just five weeks ago. He says ‘it feels much longer’. But in a good way.

These are the biographical details supplied by the press office at his new force: 

‘Chief Superintendent Chris Bowen grew up in Troedyrhiw in South Wales. He moved north to study a degree in Computing and Information Systems at Bradford University and, subsequently, obtained a Masters Degree in Police Management and Leadership from the Warwick Business School.

‘He joined West Yorkshire Police in 1997, starting his career at Odsal. Chris spread his wings with postings across West Yorkshire including Neighbourhood Policing, Patrol, Operational Planning, Public Order Training, Firearms Command and National functions including the CT Network.

‘Whilst working at West Yorkshire Police, he served as a Superintendent of Operations on the Leeds District – one of the biggest operational districts in the country – before fulfilling the role of Head of Contact in the force.

‘Chris was one of the most experienced Public Order Silver Commanders in West Yorkshire. He has experience of commanding a wide variety of events from the Leeds United promotion celebrations, the Chapeltown Carnival through to varying protests’.

This is an unedited clip of the presentation to Council Members and the questions from the Party Group Leader’s that followed. On any independent view, it was sincere and demonstrated serious commitment to his new role – and what he clearly intends to be a close affinity with the Borough’s residents. 

There is very little commentary required from this journalist’s perspective, with more than enough experience of policing, and senior police officers, garnered over the years to recognise when one is candid and meaning what he (or she) says. Already he is making a big difference amongst the frontline officers, with impressive reduction in the backlog of unattended cases and a sizeable increase in arrests. A force priority, he says, making no apology for going after those miscreants who make other people feel unsafe.

Grab a cup of tea or coffee, settle down to watch for 20 minutes and judge for yourself whether Chris Bowen’s five point plan can work and give the Borough the policing service that it needs and deserves.

For those without the time or inclination to do that, this is the plan as laid out in the meeting.

1. Respond to incidents (not done well in past, he says). 

2. Investigate and detect crime. Do it better, follow every lead.

3. Reduce harm. By addressing (1). and (2). Drive down demand and release resource for better service in neighbourhoods. Arrests almost doubled year on year (Oct/Oct). No apologies for going after criminals.

4. Give outstanding service. Benchmark is: ‘Would you be happy with the service GMP provide to your Mam and Dad if they had used or needed our service’.

5. Build back public trust and confidence. By delivering 1. to 4.

Underscored by this remark in answer to a question from the Council Leader, Arooj Shah: ‘We have to prove that what we say is what we do. Get out there on the job’.

Chris Bowen reports to the two chief officers with joint responsibility for the Local Policing portfolio, Assistant Chief Constables Chris Sykes and Scott Green, the latter of whom started at GMP in September, 2021. ACC Sykes had previously held the ‘poison chalice’ portfolio that included the infamous iOPS computer upgrade (read more here).

Page last updated: Friday 5th November, 2021 at 1305 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:  GMP

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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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