The end of November marked two months of Operation Vulcan Piccadilly – the partnership operation tackling crime in Piccadilly Gardens, with the vision of creating a warm and welcoming space for residents, businesses, and visitors to enjoy.
In November, officers spent 140 hours policing the gardens, conducting several joint visits with partners including Manchester City Council, the Street Engagement Team, and Home Office Immigration Enforcement, as well as supporting specialist operations and days of targeted action in the area.
By having regular police activity, 17 people who have Criminal Behaviour Orders or strict bail conditions not to enter the area have been identified, meaning they’ve been swiftly removed or arrested. In addition, by utilising stop search powers, two weapons and large quantities of snap bags of drugs have been seized – preventing further harm and stopping drugs from making their way onto the streets of Greater Manchester.
By proactively patrolling the area throughout November, Operation Vulcan have made 69 arrests for a variety of offences including drugs, possession of weapons, and sexual offences, contributing to the overall safety of the area.
Speaking to some local businesses and visitors at the Christmas Markets, police have received positive feedback about their consistent presence and attitude, including how effective they have been at managing anti-social behaviour and overt drug and alcohol use, all whilst being a friendly face for members of the public to speak to.
The first month required relentless activity as we showed the criminals operating in the area that police and partners were committed to revitalising the area and clamping down on all criminality that had seeped in over the years.
This month, as the criminals seem to be getting the message that illegal activity is not tolerated here, more time and resources have been focussed on safeguarding and increasing referrals, making sure those in need receive the right support and assistance. This month, as the weather declines, there has been a concerted effort to collaborate with the street engagement team to increase engagement with the homeless, letting them know help is available at a number of specialist support services across Greater Manchester. This month, we have also donated repurposed counterfeit clothes including coats, hats, and scarves to The Mustard Tree who are a local charity tackling and preventing homelessness.
Additionally, further work is ongoing to tackle exploitation in the area through collaboration with specialist Complex Safeguarding teams from across the force. Since the operation launched in September 2023, 20 care plans have been submitted which aim to systematically resolve the root issues vulnerable young people and adults are facing.
This collaborative approach empowers the most suitable specialist agency to act, ensuring that those identified as being at risk have effective safeguarding measures implemented and access to the relevant support systems, whilst effectively managing any risk.
Inspector Dan Cullum, one of Operation Vulcan’s specialist officers said: “Operation Vulcan Piccadilly is a real community focused project, tackling the issues that matter the most to the people of Manchester.
“A lot of the work goes on behind the scenes and isn’t always visible to the wider public, but I’d like to assure you that we continue to work closely with our partners and dedicated officers from across the force to make sure the root causes of the issues faced in Piccadilly Gardens are resolved, ensuring long-term, sustainable change in the area.
“We continue to deploy a wide range of tactics to ensure the public feel safe. We’re here to help, and if you have any concerns or want to speak to our officers, they will always be happy to answer any questions.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council said: “We’ve been pleased to see the progress which Operation Vulcan has made in Piccadilly Gardens since it began a few months ago. This project was rooted in restoring pride of place in the Gardens, making people feel it was as welcoming and safe as any other part of the city centre.
“At the heart of this operation is the ongoing engagement with residents, customers and businesses who use the Gardens daily to ensure it can be enjoyed by everyone.”