An MP has slammed Greater Manchester Police for their handling of a car meet attended by ‘thousands’ in Tameside.
The event at an industrial estate on Windmill Lane in Denton on Sunday (July 19), caused traffic chaos on surrounding roads and motorways.
Footage from the event showed huge groups of people packed onto the site, with others lining the streets. Drivers revved their engines and drove at speed along some stretches.
The event caused major delays on the M60 and M67 as police were forced to close surrounding roads.
No arrests have been made but police say an investigation into the incident is underway.
Dozens of residents contacted MP Andrew Gwynne, whose constituency includes Denton, following claims some vehicles were travelling at speeds of ‘up to 130mph’.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News , Mr Gwynne blasted GMP for their handling of the event, which was advertised on Facebook 24 hours before.
He wants to know what GMP knew about the event beforehand, considering it was advertised on social media, and why it wasn’t shut down once in progress.
“It has been a nightmare for all the residents after literally thousands of people descended on the town,” he said.
“GMP must be seeking the award for the most inept police force in the country right now.
“They supposedly have a specific unit that is tasked with monitoring social media to alert the force of any illegal events.
“Given that this event was advertised on Facebook before it happened, it makes you wonder what social media they are actually monitoring.”
Hundreds of cars are believed to have met in Telford before a convoy to JDK Autowork garage at Tameside Business Park.
Superintendent Jane Higham, of GMP’s Tameside district, said the force had not received any intelligence about the event until receiving a call from a member of the public on Sunday afternoon.
She said that specialist scanners which search social media for planned illegal events, failed to pick up the advert for the meet.
Speaking to the M.E.N, she said: “I understand Mr Gwynne’s frustrations. He has a huge number of constituents who were really badly affected by the situation.
“Sometimes you can judge the police response because you think you might take a certain set of actions.
“When you get such great numbers as it was yesterday at such great speed, your priority is to keep the community safe and make sure nobody gets injured.
“That is what we did. We closed roads and we dispersed people and now we will investigate.
“I’m sorry if the public doesn’t always understand that our methods have to be done in such a way that we contain issues to keep people safe.
“I have debriefed the officers in control. I know they were up against it with a very challenging situation with a huge number of other incidents in the district as well.”
Police were forced to close the M60 anticlockwise at junction 24, for Denton, to deal with the traffic problems.
The police helicopter was seen circling overhead.
One driver said it took 90 minutes just to travel between Hyde and Denton, while one worker was left trapped on an industrial estate until the car meet came to an end.
“This has caused utter misery for the residents in Denton and I want very serious answers from GMP,” Mr Gwynne added.
“Tameside council tells me there have been no fatalities which is only by good fortune not because of good management.
“The police need to, very quickly, give answers about why this happened and why the event wasn’t picked up.
“They should have closed this event down rather than allowing it to continue and blocking all the roads in Denton. It is ineptitude of the highest order by GMP.”
In a statement, Supt Higham said: “The scenes that were posted on social media of the car event in Denton on Sunday (19 July) afternoon were quite frankly unacceptable and we are committed to finding out how this incident came to be.
“The disruption caused by the large gathering of people and the volume of traffic wreaked havoc across some of the main routes in the town and impacted the nearby motorway network. This disregard for the rest of the public is shocking and will not be tolerated.
“While I completely understand and empathise with the many people affected by this event and concerned with our response, it is important to recognise that we only became aware of the event once it had begun and the risk posed to our officers and the wider public by trying to intervene after this was considerably enhanced.
“This weekend on the Tameside district an illegal rave was prevented from taking place after our officers responded to public-led intelligence; what we need to continue to ensure is that anyone with information about such large illegal gatherings contacts us with any details they have so that we can enforce police powers before they escalate into events that are complex and unsafe to try and repress.
“We have met with the local authority today (Monday 20 July 2020) to debrief the incident and are planning how we take preventative measures in the future as well as identifying and taking to task those involved in coordinating this event.
“In the meantime, I urge anyone with information about this event or future events of this nature to contact police via 101 or online immediately.”
Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 quoting incident number 1748 of 19/07/2020. Details can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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