Greater Manchester Police operation expands to tackle crime in Piccadilly Gardens

Police are aiming to tackle anti-social behaviour in Piccadilly Gardens.

A police operation which helped decrease crime in one area of Manchester is being moved to another in a hope it will get similar results.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is increasing the use of stop and search tactics and plain clothed officers in Piccadilly Gardens, aiming to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area.

Named Operation Vulcan, GMP will be putting in a Taskforce to increase police presence and collaboration with neighbourhood officers.

Officers will have an increased presence in Piccadilly Gardens

It is aiming to identify the root causes of crime at Piccadilly Gardens and determine the best solutions.

The operation will also lead to more arrests in the area - with three people detained in just the first hour of Operation Vulcan Piccadilly.

Drug dealing, exploitation, theft from person, and violent crime are some of the key issues the operation is hoping to address.

Kate Green, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "You’ll see more police chatting to people, some stopping and searching of people if they have reasonable grounds to believe they may be committing crimes.

"I think you’ll see more police officers, but also what you won’t see is we’ll have plain clothed police officers out and about in Picadilly Gardens."

Detective Superintendent Neil Blackwood, who will be leading the team of officers during the operation, said: "We want Piccadilly Gardens to feel safer and become a more welcoming place for people to live, work, and socialise.

"But make no mistake, we will be adopting a zero-tolerance approach to any criminality, and we will be relentless in our pursuit to make this a hostile environment for criminals."

Officers patrolling in Piccadilly Gardens

GMP are also working with other organisations in order to help improve the area, such as local businesses, charities, and Manchester City Council.

The Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, Luthfur Rahman, said: "The Council will support the operation whether through services to improve the appearance of the area as anti-social behaviour is reduced, or by aiding vulnerable people who need support – for example drug and alcohol treatment or safeguarding."

Both the council and GMP have highlighted the potential of the space for hosting events, with its base as Manchester's Christmas markets for the past two years as well as it hosting screenings for the Lionesses' World Cup final match.

Councillor Rahman said: "It’s a much-used space, with 150,000 people a day passing through it, but we recognise that it has issues with crime and anti-social behaviour and that negative perceptions surround it."

Operation Vulcan has already seen success in Cheetham Hill. Launched in 2022, it successfully led to over 200 counterfeit shops being closed down, and more than 1,000 tonnes of counterfeit items being seized.

Police officers will be making more arrests and using stop and search measures

Deputy Mayor Kate Green says the success of Operation Vulcan so far shows the improvements GMP is making since they left special measures last year.

She said: "Op Vulcan is one of the things that I think you can see now showing the new, very proactive way of policing hotspots... I think the local people will really welcome it."

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