BURY South MP Ivan Lewis has hit out at the government after spending a night on the beat with police officers.

Mr Lewis joined a team of eight officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Bury Division earlier this month to experience first-hand the challenges facing the force.

He described the experience as ‘a rare insight into the challenges facing the highly professional and committed men and women of GMP who make up the thin blue line battling to keep our communities safe’.

Among the daily challenges officers reported to the MP were ‘unmanageable workloads’, administrative burdens, and ‘a frustration that diminishing numbers of police officers are increasingly filling gaps left through cuts to mental health services’.

Mr Lewis said: “I learned that proactive policing is now rare and shockingly scarce resources mean serious and traumatic crimes such as house burglary are no longer a priority for response or investigation.

“Officers are required to complete significant amounts of information on each individual crime they are investigating.

“This relentless administrative burden takes them away from the frontline for hours at a time and outdated IT doesn’t help.

“Alongside these challenges, officers frequently experience violence and trauma in the course of their duties.

“An experienced officer told me how her life had been affected on a long-term basis by the death of her colleague and best friend.

“He was killed in a road accident responding to her call for help at a crime scene. She explained how this had understandably made her reluctant to call for help in similar circumstances.”

During the course of the shift, Mr Lewis joined officers in attending a range of incidents, including reports of a fight involving a stabbing, which turned out to be an altercation between ex-partners, and one of a cyclist reported to be threatening violence and in possession of a gun.

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Mr Lewis also visited the custody suite, which was covering several other divisions due to poor staffing levels elsewhere, and bemoaned a ‘paucity of mental health crisis services’ meaning ‘the police were the first and often only line of response’.

He now says he will present the findings from his visit to the deputy mayor of Greater Manchester, Baroness Beverley Hughes, as well as the chief constable of GMP and the head of the NHS in the region.

Mr Lewis concluded: “There is undoubtedly a need for better technology, a major reduction in the admin burden placed on officers and a review of the responsibility for responding to the needs of people with mental health issues.

“However, irrespective of the goodwill and efforts of local leaders, central government cuts which have led to a more than 20 per cent reduction in GMP staffing levels coupled with underfunded NHS mental health services have left policing in a perilous state.

In Greater Manchester, the thin blue line is not a cliche, but a sad reality. Our police officers and support staff do an excellent job but they deserve better.”