Leave cancelled for police officers to step up patrols as pubs reopen

Date published: 02 July 2020

Greater Manchester Police is cancelling leave for many of its officers this weekend as it steps up patrols to oversee the reopening of pubs and prevent further illegal raves.

A ‘significant operation’ is planned across the region on Saturday 4 July, when bars and restaurants will open for the first time in more than three months.

Mayor Andy Burnham says there will be an increased police presence in cities and towns but the force’s approach will not be ‘heavy handed’.

GMP will continue to crackdown on raves using ‘more specialised surveillance’, together with tip-offs from the public, to stop further gatherings.

Mr Burnham also admitted that it was ‘more likely’ the reopening of pubs could coincide with a rise in Covid cases should people ignore social distancing rules.

He had also described the government’s decision to ease restrictions on a Saturday as ‘downright reckless’.

“Our message today to the public is to use those new opportunities with greater caution and, where possible, stay local,” Mr Burnham told a press conference on Wednesday (1 July).

“Be cautious, be sensible and look out for each other. This is still a very serious public health crisis that we found ourselves, and people should approach the weekend with that in mind.”

Earlier in the week GMP Detective Chief Constable Ian Pilling insisted that the force was not ‘going soft’ in its enforcement of raves and disorder arising from pubs and bars.

But he hoped officers would not have to be deployed to break up trouble, adding: “What I’d like is to be sitting here next Monday morning looking back and seeing we had a really good reopening of the pubs without any disorder taking place.

“I appeal to the public who are going to go out and about on Saturday night and enjoy those pubs that have been reopened. Please behave sensibly.”

Not all of Greater Manchester’s pubs and restaurants will be reopening on Saturday, with many choosing a more ‘cautious safety-first approach’.

The city-region’s night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, has urged people to check ahead before travelling to reduce travel on public transport.

He said: “A lot of hospitality staff will never have worked in these conditions before, and it could be difficult at first, so please have patience and be kind.”

Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter

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