An operation to crackdown on burglaries in Bolton and the rest of Greater Manchester has led to thousands of arrests.

Operation Castle was launched in 2021 as officers committed a pledge to the Government to send an officer to every domestic burglary in Greater Manchester.

The operation was hailed as a ground-breaking initiative which had a clear focus to conduct full investigation, and to protect victims from being repeatedly targeted.

Following the success of the pilot operation in Greater Manchester Police, in October 2022, the Home Office announced that all police forces across the country would be required to attend every report of domestic burglary as part of the Government’s overall commitment to reducing crime, lessening victims, and creating a safer country.

Prior to the pledge being undertaken - burglary, along with other types of neighbourhood crime, was often referred to as a “volume” or “low level” crime. But now, two years on from the commitment, these terms are no longer found in the force’s vocabulary.

Officers said that Operation Castle is 'thriving and continues to generate positive results' having invested in additional training for officers and staff to improve their investigative skills, we established dedicated burglary teams across districts and implemented and improved our operational response model which allowed us to respond quicker to burglaries.

In the last two years, GMP has arrested 4544 individuals, and incidents of burglary have decreased by 21 per cent, with officers vowing to continue in their efforts to rid the region of this distressing and intrusive crime.

From July 2021 to July 2023, GMP solved 39 per cent more residential burglaries.

In the same period, the force recorded 3778 fewer residential burglaries. This is despite improved compliance with national standards, which has resulted in increased recording across many crime types.

Superintendent Chris Foster, GMP’s burglary lead, said: “Operation Castle has gone from strength to strength in the last two years since its inception, we have done this by increasing our focus on enforcement, we continue to work on protecting victims by raising awareness of crime prevention techniques that can be adopted to prevent burglaries. This includes providing bespoke advice tailored to each specific incident we attend. For example, if a victim of burglary has had their lock burnt and their car stolen, we will provide crime prevention advice around putting the keys in a faraday pouch and installing lighting around the doors where the locks have been burnt

“It’s also key that we capture and share learnings from best practice and invest in the development of staff to improve the service that we provide to the public and protect victims of crime.”

“In April, the force held its first Operation Castle seminar – a learning event for officers and members of staff, with local and national partners also in attendance. The practical and interactive event gave officers and police staff from around the country, a unique opportunity to hear a compelling mix of strategies and workable solutions. As part of the event, officers and staff also heard from a victim of burglary - who attended the seminar alongside his wife and gave an emotional account of when his family home was burgled and the positive response that he received from GMP which promoted officers to think about the impact of victims when attending all burglaries.

“Despite continued progress and improvements under Operation Castle, it goes without saying, we are not complacent. Although we have seen reductions, the number of burglaries being committed in Greater Manchester is still too high – with 14 per every 1,000 households.

“But as a force, we remain committed to developing and strengthening the methods that we adopt for tackling burglaries, improving our understanding of the impact that burglary has on victims and communities, and bringing offenders to justice.”

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