GMP's ageing fleet of cars is to be replaced.

The force, as reported in the Manchester Evening News, has had to hire cars recently due to the dire state of some of its vehicles.

Currently in special measures, GMP has had to send response officers out to crimes using lease cars as it ‘has not had the police vehicles to get out to jobs’, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes, admitted last week.

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One officer told the MEN that two thirds of the cars on their division were off the road at one point a couple of months ago.

Now it is spending £3.5 million to buy 164 new beat cars and increase driver training for advanced operations.

Spending on crucial infrastructure is a key pledge of GMP's new working model - the Plan on a Page - introduced by new Chief Constable Stephen Watson.

It commits the force to a back-to-basics set of actions to ensure GMP can deliver the service that the people of Greater Manchester deserve.

Speaking to Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Panel last week, ACC Sykes admitted the existing fleet had been ‘failing’.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes

He told the panel:“You’ll be upset to hear that we’ve had our response officers attending some jobs in hire cars because we haven’t had the fleet.

“We haven’t had the police vehicles to get out to jobs so we’ve had to use hire cars on occasions.

“We’re really really pleased that we’ve been supported by the deputy mayor in a big growth in our fleet and a replacement of a lot of our fleet. The cars were failing, couldn’t cope with the sort of mileage we were putting on them. We had an old fleet."

GMP spoke to front line staff about anything that was impeding the force reaching its potential - with the quality and quantity of marked vehicles being a recurring theme.

Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods and Chief Officer Christopher Kinsella urgently commissioned work to fix the issue.

Three prospective vehicles were identified - the Toyota Corolla 1.8L petrol hybrid active, Ford Focus Zetec 1.0L eco boost petrol-hybrid and the Hyundai i30 1.0L turbo mild-hybrid.

Inspector Danny Kabal, and PCs with the three contenders to replace GMP's ageing fleet of beat vehicles - Ford Focus Zetec; Hyundai i30; and the Toyota Corolla.

A series of road tests of the vehicles was organised by Inspector Danny Kabal, who was in charge of the force's Tactical Vehicle Intercept Unit - supported by other departments including response, fleet, training and the Police Federation.

Police Constables - who will be among the main users of the cars - graded the vehicles on exterior and interior, steering, braking, acceleration and deceleration, gearbox, safety features, handling, comfort and storage.

The "green" credentials of each was also considered, such as fuel consumption and emissions to help reduce the carbon footprint of the fleet.

The Corolla and Focus received very similar scores and an order for 164 new beat cars - split evenly between the Ford and Toyota - has been placed after a £3.5 million funding bid was agreed by the Deputy Mayor.

The money will also pay for more drivers to be trained more quickly.

Manchester's courts are some of the busiest in the country with a vast array of cases heard every week.

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Deputy Mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice and fire, Bev Hughes, said: "This is a significant investment but one that is extremely important in making sure front line officers are well equipped to respond to incidents and emergencies effectively and safely."

DCC Terry Woods said: “Investing in and improving our fleet provision is clearly identified in our Plan on a Page and this represents a quick and significant investment to get people the right tools to get the job done.

"Involving officers and support services more fully in projects such as this will help make sure we are providing our staff with the most effective kit and equipment to enable them to do their jobs. Thank you to all those who organised or took part in the test day, which gave us valuable insights and opinions and influenced the final choice of vehicle".

Neil Clarke, Deputy Secretary of Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: “The Force wide review of vehicles used by our members on Districts is welcome, as is the considered engagement process the force implemented in reviewing the vehicles.

"Our members will use these vehicles on a daily basis and it is important that they were given the opportunity to review them from an operational perspective and afforded the opportunity to provide honest constructive feedback. This has assisted in identifying vehicles which are fit for purpose and will provide greater resilience across the fleet, the feedback from all the staff who took part has been really positive."

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