Top cop set to address his local council today

CSupt Chris Bowen

A few weeks after he took over as District Commander in October last year, Chief Superintendent Chris Bowen delivered a powerful – and welcome – speech to a Full Council meeting in Oldham’s civic chamber (read in full here).

This, in essence, is what he promised Greater Manchester Police would deliver in the Borough as his Policing Plan.

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

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.

Today, 14th December, 2022, he will give an update to this Policing Plan, provided there is a majority of elected Members who agree to a suspension of the Council’s Procedure Rules that will allow the top cop to address the meeting.

That is all well and good but, as befits a Council now notorious for its propensity for secrecy, poor judgement and ‘cover-up’, that is not what the published Agenda says. Another curiosity is that every other section of the Agenda is tightly regulated in the way of time limits but according the the script prepared for the Mayor, who chairs the meeting, none has been applied to C/Supt Bowen, a prolific talker as most native South Waleans can be.

After his speech questions will be taken from Party Leaders (Cllrs Amanda Chadderton, Howard Sykes MBE and Graham Sheldon) and one other representative from each of their respective Groups. The Conservatives have already nominated Cllr Dave Arnott (recently spotted disguised as an elf in Royton town centre) and the LibDems Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani (a regular critic of the police and the effect of the absence of political oversight from the Greater Manchester Mayor) to be their supplementaries.

Just eight questions might seem a skinny allowance given some of the high profile controversies to beset Oldham in the year or so since C/Supt Bowen arrived from neighbouring West Yorkshire Police, where he enjoyed a sound reputation as a committed, career-long neighbouring policing advocate and exponent. GMP recently emerged from a near two year spell in Home Office ‘Special Measures’ and is ranked by at least one police watchdog as ‘the most improved force in the country’.

So far, apologies for absence from Full Council have been received from Cllrs Shoab Akhtar, Steven Bashforth, Mohammed Alyas, Zahid Chauhan OBE, Nazrul Islam, Alicia Marland and Lewis Quigg. There may be more, as the meeting has been, controversially, moved to a 2.30pm start – from its regular time slot of 6pm – to accommodate a phantom football match. Surrounded, of course, by the now standard secrecy, poor judgement and subsequent cover-up as Oldham Council seek to conceal the senior paid officer(s) whom appear to have taken that decision unilaterally (read more here).

But, as things stand, C/Supt Bowen will be addressing one councillor in the chamber who is presently on police bail over an allegation of rape. The subject individual was arrested at his home on 8th September, 2022. To the discomfort of many, particularly female councillors and paid officers, he attended the last council meeting and has also attended two other sparsely attended events at the Civic Centre since his arrest where his presence is even more oppressive. Nevertheless, presumption of innocence must, as always, apply.

The author of this article, Neil Wilby, will report on the Policing Plan update today, but the rest of the meeting will not be covered with the usual live blog as a protest against the Council’s senior paid officers consistently refusing to answer uncomplicated press requests and/or emails in a timely, ethical and professional manner.

There is simply no place in public life for that form of dishonesty.

Page last updated Wednesday 14th December, 2022 at 0840hrs

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. 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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