LEADERS of Trafford community groups took part in an ‘eye-opening’ ride-along with police officers last weekend.

Representatives from social media groups joined forces with GMP officers on patrol around Trafford, where they gained an understanding of the challenges facing police.

At Trafford HQ, the volunteers were shocked to learn that there are only 12 response officers covering the whole of Trafford.

The officers explained how incidents are prioritised from grade one (most serious) to grade five (least serious).

The volunteers joined officers on ‘blue light calls’, including reports of indecent exposure in Urmston town centre, seizing a vehicle being driven without a license in Sale, speeding drivers in Hale, as welll as a domestic dispute in Timperley.

The shift took a comical turn when officers stopped a car full of “suspicious looking men in hats” in Timperley, who turned out to be a friendly group of social workers setting off for a harmless evening of night fishing.

Approaching midnight, the volunteers were rushed by blue lights over to Old Trafford to investigate a report of a paramedic being threatened, before returning to Timperley to investigate a stolen car parked on a driveway.

Gaynor Mullin, an admin for Facebook group Sale M33, said: “We all loved the evening and found it really enlightening. We were surprised about how much ground they have to cover during the course of a shift.

“While we weren’t being called somewhere, all the time was spent driving round areas checking for suspicious activity, such as burglaries, which I found reassuring.

“However the officers we were out with were surplus last night, so on a normal shift they have much less time for patrolling unfortunately.

“We realised just how stretched the service now is to deal with less urgent matters.

“We discussed the moped problem with them — the problem is that they can not chase them for safety reasons, but they can employ other methods to find them and seize the bikes. So it was stressed that it really is important that every incident is reported. What happens is that when they get a lot of reports about a particular problem, they are then given extra resources to tackle it.

“Evidence of the extent of the cuts can also clearly be seen at Altrincham Police Station. Given that we once had our own police station in Sale, I would have expected Altrincham to be a busy station but most of the rooms were empty. While we see the frontline cuts, the cuts to the back room staff are also very evident.”