Safer Stronger

New policing team working to improve safety in Manchester city centre

A new policing team is working to improve safety in the Piccadilly area and Manchester city centre.

Operation Perseus launched in December 2020 as a result of an increase to the city-region's policing precept, resulting in the employment of an additional 325 Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers – meaning almost 1,000 more police officers are working for the force since the Mayor of Greater Manchester was first elected in 2017.

The Operation Perseus team are focused on improving safety and combating issues, with a focus on the Piccadilly and Piccadilly Gardens area. Their work supplements a number of policing operations targeting crime committed in the city centre. GMP officers are based in Manchester Town Hall and work seven days a week, concentrating on proactive and preventative elements of crime. There is now an increased police presence made up of high visibility patrols. Officers are focused on protecting and safeguarding vulnerable young people, such as those at risk of becoming victims of crime. Longer term issues such as anti-social behaviour, drug offences and knife crime are also being tackled by the team.

Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “The increase in last year’s police precept has enabled investment in a new city centre team to focus on violence reduction. At the core of this work is action taking place in the Piccadilly area, which complements the environmental improvements being made by Manchester City Council.

“Further investments in our frontline officers include the provision of new clothing, footwear and equipment, as well as mobile applications for frontline officers, which allows them to spend more time dealing with the public and resolving incidents.”

 Inspector Jonathan Shilvock, GMP's Operation Perseus lead, said: "Operation Perseus is an initiative to reduce crime, vulnerability and anti-social in Manchester city centre by providing a visible policing presence and tackling concerns from the public alongside key partners, to ensure it remains a safe place to live, work and visit.

"Since its formation, the operation has had a positive impact in the city centre and had led to a reduction in anti-social behaviour, something which has been recognised by many of the local businesses, which is incredibly pleasing. As part of the ongoing policing activity, there has been an increase in number of Criminal Behaviour Orders being granted to those that are causing a nuisance; banning them from the locality and preventing further disruption.

"Understandably, we have seen a reduction in crime such as anti-social behaviour within the city centre, as Covid-19 restrictions have meant that people have been advised to stay at home where possible. However, over the coming months as the city centre and the rest of Greater Manchester begins to reopen, our message to offenders remains the same – we are taking a robust, zero-tolerance approach when dealing with anti-social behaviour and criminality, and we'll continue to explore many different tactics to disrupt the individuals involved.”

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The Piccadilly area is, in normal times, the busiest part of the city centre and we are all working together on improving it and making it a more welcoming public space. Early improvements include the demolition of the standalone wall in Piccadilly Gardens to improve sightlines - and bigger plans are being developed.

“We welcome the work Operation Perseus is doing to disrupt and discourage anti-social behaviour as part of this partnership effort.”

Operation Perseus is just one of the many operations underway to reduce crime in Manchester city centre.

The Serious Violent Crime hub, which has been based in Manchester Town Hall since January 2020, is responsible for preventative work to reduce violent crime across Manchester city centre. Work involves making interventions with potential victims and offenders as early as possible. A street engagement team is also working with the homeless community, with officers linking individuals with support from partner organisations.

Operation Sycamore focuses on preventing serious violent crime, especially knife related crime and officers also work to identify potential victims as soon as they arrive into the city centre.

Operation Valiant, which was created in July 2018, targeted a series of linked robberies in Manchester city centre. Officers on this team carry out in-depth investigations and policing work to solve and reduce robberies in the city centre. A number of large-scale prosecutions has led to criminal behaviour orders to be issued, which ban prolific offenders committing crimes and consequences if they breach the order.

Operation Mantle, which focuses on the city centre’s night-time economy, sees plain clothes officers deployed to seek out those who may be vulnerable. To date, Operation Mantle officers have located high risk missing persons, prevented serious sexual offences and safeguarded the most vulnerable. From July to December 2020 there were almost 300 interventions with vulnerable people and almost 50 pieces of intelligence gathered to help build cases, progress crime reports and identify offenders. Around 60 care plans were also submitted, enabling officers to signpost victims to the most suitable agency for specialist help and support.

Operation Orion is predominantly focused on the drug supply into the city centre, along with burglaries. Much of the team's work is around gathering and developing intelligence, to combat criminality which can be very transient, many of those being targeted are from all corners of Greater Manchester.

In October 2019 the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) launched, which brings together Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the National Probation Service as well as health, education and youth justice services and the VCSE sector. The unit is modelled on a public health approach to tackling violence.

The community-led, place based approach, sees local residents actively involved in identifying problems and solutions while being directly involved in investments in their own communities. This kind of targeted policing adds value to the longer-term preventative ambitions of Greater Manchester to tackle the root causes of violence in our communities.

Article Published: 10/03/2021 10:53 AM