As night falls in Oldham, GMP Chief Superintendent Chris Bowen is standing outside the Civic Center with a camera pointing at him from an awkward angle as he gears up to deliver a public service announcement to residents of the borough.
“Oldham is the safest place to live and work in Greater Manchester,” the Supt says as snow patters across his face. It’s a bold statement but one he confidently delivers following a successful targeted police operation throughout the borough yesterday (March 31).
The message follows a statement Bowden released earlier in the day where he dropped references to Winston Churchill and a leading suffragette. Operation Avro – a police initiative tackling crimes which have been reported by local residents – is running across every borough of the region each month.
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Announcing that Avro had arrived in Oldham, the Supt said at the start of the morning: “Today is the day we take the fight back to the criminal and Op Avro lands in Oldham. By the time you watch this video numerous warrants will have been executed.
“Those warrants will have been executed on information and intelligence provided by you the good people of Oldham. If you log in later today I’ll give you updated on the progress but for now, rest assured the full might of Greater Manchester Police is here in Oldham today, taking the fight back to the criminals.”
By 8am, Greater Manchester Police confirmed 30 arrests had been made following an address on Huddersfield Road. As promised, the Chief Superintendent offered a further update later in the day to announce 54 arrests were made during the day’s operation.
He said: “As darkness falls on Operation Avro and the Civic Tower is lit up to mark the end of a successful operation, I want to say thank you to you all for the information you have given us to make today’s operation such a success.
“We’ve had an amazing afternoon of engagement with events at the temple at Limeside Park and a full meeting of the youth council. I am pleased to announce we executed 26 warrants, we’ve arrested 54 people and they are currently making their way through the criminal justice system.
“So all that remains for me to say is to thank you once again for your support in helping us make Oldham the safest place to live and work in Greater Manchester.”
Operation Avro has already seen crackdown days across Salford, Trafford, Manchester and Stockport. Last month, the force made thirty arrests in Tameside after seizing cash, drugs and vehicles during Operation Avro.
Each borough’s operation has seen similarly-bold statements made during their targeted days of action. In Salford last year, Chf Supt Shaun Donnellan told the MEN the operation was a ‘statement of intent’ for GMP. He said it was an important part of the force ‘recognizing it is on the road back to where it used to be and will be again’.