Over the last year and a half, my inbox has been dominated with local residents’ questions about Covid-19, whether that be seeking travel advice, questions about self-isolation, or those seeking financial support.

To put the volume of these enquiries into perspective, out of the 11,280 cases my team and I have helped constituents with since February last year, 15% were Covid-19 related.

However, over the last few months, there has been a significant rise in the amount of correspondence I’ve been receiving about local crime, with crime concerns now totalling 13% of my total caseload.

I believe that this clearly demonstrates that were it not for the pandemic, crime would be by far the biggest issue that my constituents are concerned about, which is why in this week’s column, I wanted to outline the steps I am taking to ensure that local people feel safer in their local communities.

When I was first elected MP for Leigh back in December 2019, one of the first meetings my Greater Manchester Conservative colleagues and I organised was that with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, to discuss our concerns about rising crime in our constituencies and indeed, the performance of Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

As many of you will know, many of the problems within GMP were being caused by the former Chief Constable’s and Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner’s decision to introduce the new iOPS computer system to GMP, the rollout of which caused significant problems and led to over 80,000 serious crimes going unrecorded.

Last year, as a result of the representations colleagues and I made to the Home Office, alongside the damning findings of the independent report conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service, GMP was placed into special measures.

Since then, a new Chief Constable, Stephen Watson, has been appointed to GMP, and within just three months of him being in post, he has created a new plan for the future of GMP and announced their new ‘Promises to the Public’.

In addition, since the 2019 General Election, over 300 new police officers have been recruited to GMP, and we are delivering on the pledge to recruit 20,000 new police officers by 2023 ahead of schedule.

Of course, repairing the problems within GMP will take time, and whilst these improvements happen, many of my constituents are still concerned about local crime, police response times, and the action that they feel is not being taken to follow up on crimes or intelligence that they have reported.

This is why as Leigh’s MP, I arranged a series of public crime meetings right across the constituency with our new Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Smith, and by the time you have read this column, we will have already hosted a series of meetings.

These meetings have and will continue to provide residents with an opportunity to put their crime concerns directly to a senior member of their local policing team, as well to me as your MP.

So please, do consider attending one of my upcoming public crime meetings, details of which can be found at www.facebook.com/James4Leigh or by contacting my office at james.grundy.mp@parliament.uk or 01942 857 326.