The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has vowed to police “without fear or favour” amid a political row between Downing Street and local leaders over tougher coronavirus measures.
In an open letter, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said that while he is “accountable” to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, he is “operationally independent”.
It follows reports that the Government has not imposed Tier 3 measures on Greater Manchester over fears police would not enforce them without the backing of Mr Burnham.
— Greater Manchester Police (@gmpolice) October 17, 2020
Political leaders in the region have so far refused to accept the highest level of restrictions without greater financial support for businesses and residents.
Mr Hopkins said in the letter: “All officers and staff in Greater Manchester Police are accountable to me as Chief Constable.
“We carry out operational policing without fear or favour and in line with the Police Services code of ethics alongside colleagues across the country.”
He added: “It is for local and national politicians to agree the necessary restrictions to keep us all safe.
“As the Chief Constable I will then ensure my officers and staff enforce these in a proportionate manner alongside our local authority partners.”
Mr Hopkins said he has spoken to both the mayor and Home Secretary Priti Patel throughout the pandemic.
“We are all agreed that there needs to be a proportionate level of enforcement to existing regulations,” he said, adding he had “support” from both in relation to the force’s approach.
Boris Johnson tried to increase pressure on Mr Burnham during a Downing Street press conference on Friday, threatening to impose the measures if local leaders did not accept them.
“I cannot stress enough: time is of the essence. Each day that passes before action is taken means more people will go to hospital, more people will end up in intensive care and tragically more people will die,” the Prime Minister said.
But the mayor and council leaders across Greater Manchester responded by insisting they have done “everything within our power to protect the health of our residents”.
They said people and firms need greater financial support before they accept the tougher restrictions.