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Operation Ambition: Police Now officer could save Greater Manchester Police over £7 million each year

Operation Ambition: Police Now officer could save Greater Manchester Police over £7 million each year

Thursday 15th June 2023

Police Constable Jamie Acton, who joined Greater Manchester Police in 2021 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, has been leading ‘Operation Ambition’, which could save the force over £7 million a year. The operation, which ran from 3rd March – 1st April this year, piloted a new process for receiving reports of missing persons from hospitals and improving the quality of initial investigations.   

Operation Ambition was trialled across three hospitals in the north, which together accounted for over 1500 missing persons cases last year. Across the whole of Greater Manchester, over 5700 missing persons were reported from hospitals last year, costing the police approximately £15.6 million. Many of the cases reported to police may not require police investigation but can be resolved quickly with effective reporting and partnership working with hospitals, saving public money and police time.

Leading the operation, Jamie provided training to clinicians and police staff to equip them with the means of locating the patients themselves, for example by speaking to family and friends and reviewing CCTV footage. If all these avenues were exhausted, a sergeant would then work closely with partner agencies to assess the missing person’s capacity and vulnerability and establish the most suitable agency to provide that person with support. If the individual was deemed at risk, a formal investigation would be opened and carried out by trained Response sergeants, in accordance with Greater Manchester Police’s missing persons policy.

Thanks to Jamie’s work, police sergeants were able to resolve 45% of missing persons reports without needing to launch a formal investigation. Of the 120 reports of absconded patients recorded during the operation, 55 were resolved at this early stage, saving almost £150k in police time and resources. If these results were replicated across all hospitals in Greater Manchester, an estimated £7 million could be saved every year. 

Operation Ambition is currently being reviewed at Greater Manchester Police’s headquarters and will be employed in other divisions of the force, ensuring those in need across Manchester have access to the best support. 

Police Constable Jamie Acton, who studied Japanese and Politics at the University of Manchester before joining Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, said: 

“Thousands of people go missing across Manchester on an annual basis. It is a priority to get these people home safely to their loves ones and ensure people considered genuinely missing are reported properly. Based on my research with local hospitals, I built up a proposal plan for the operation and Inspector Sheil’s support was instrumental in getting it up and running. We worked alongside our district’s Prevention Hub to run the pilot, which is the team that oversees demand reduction and partnership problem-solving in central Manchester. The results of the operation show just how much police time and resources can be saved by working collaboratively with community and partner organisations like the NHS. 

“The reason I joined the National Graduate Leadership Programme was because Police Now aims to empower officers to take initiative, use creative problem-solving skills to tackle issues at their roots and implement long-term change in society. As a neighbourhood police officer on the programme, I have the opportunity to help others and contribute to positively transforming communities – which is exactly what I am aiming to do through Operation Ambition. The money and resources we have saved and will save in the future can be used to tackle the crimes most affecting our communities, as we continue to support vulnerable missing persons.”

Chief Inspector Stephen Wiggins said: “Jamie and the Prevention Hub’s work has been the steer to the force’s new approach to the management of missing persons. Jamie and the team’s innovate practice has produced three things; a solution to how we can tackle missing patients at one of our statistically highest demand generators; lower risks and costs to the district; and employee buy-in. The feedback from our frontline officers has been extremely positive and welcoming. More specifically, Jamie has been a role model within the prevention team. Not only has he designed Op Ambition, he has also significantly reduced demand on key areas on district and worked closely with our internal and external partners who have praised his work and collaboration.”

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