9 April Statement from Zac Fraser, GMP Chief Inspector

Since my previous update, the team has continued to work hard protecting those who remain in the city centre alongside the rest of premises which sadly remain temporarily closed.

Crime figures from the last three weeks show a significant downward trend, as you would expect with a lower footfall across the city. This has presented the team with a number of opportunities; we are using our time to undertake more proactive and preventative work, targeting areas that have been raised as concerns over the last three months – as well as expediting investigations that we started before COVID19 measures were implemented.

Sadly we continue to see a number of premises targeted by burglars, one premises twice within the space of a week. I do have patrols within the city 24/7, and we have managed to apprehend a number of criminals during the act.

I would however like to emphasise that the removal or securing of stock will assist greatly in deterring thieves; prevention is far more effective than investigation in any situation.

One of the most common methods of access or attempted access over the last few weeks has been via fire escapes, any target hardening or preventative work you are able to undertake on your property around these areas is much appreciated.

I would suggest that you do not store any high value stock near as it allows for a fast ingress and egress. Internal locks on doors can also assist by increasing the time a person needs to be on premises to take items of value, giving us more time to respond when an alarm or silent alarm is triggered.

I have received a number of intelligence logs via CityCo’s BCRP which have been invaluable in identifying known individuals with previous offending history for acquisitive crime undertaking possible reconnaissance visits to stores that are closed, possibly preparing for criminal activity.

From these CCTV images and vehicle registration plates, officers from my team have conducted several disruption visits, visiting the home address with the strong message that they have been seen, identified and that we are watching should any criminal activity take place.

The work within Piccadilly Gardens and the surrounding area continues. I am aware of the potential for criminal activity to dispersal or relocate to another area when police activity is targeted in a singular area – there are plans in place around these including hotspot patrols, identification of further problematic areas and other policing operations that are tailored towards this.

Following a planned operation in the area we arrested 24 people, seized 4 weapons, stopped over 200 people and conducted 69 stop searches. During the operation we have seized around £4,500 worth of drugs and gained significant further intelligence leads around the drug supply into the city centre.

I continue to link in with key partners across the city in relation to homelessness. I would like to thank those of who have been able to donate to this cause; to date there are around 250 people who were previously sleeping rough or sofa surfing now in temporary accommodation either within the city centre or the surrounding boroughs. This has been a real team effort between Manchester City Council, GMP and some key charities.

Clearly the accommodation is only temporary, so I am now starting to work with these partners to understand what longer term solutions we can achieve whilst we have this opportunity to work closely and help those who require it.

There are still a number of people on the streets, work continues to locate further accommodation offers, however there are also a small number of people who say they do not want to live inside a building, I am working to establish what options are available for these people to protect their health and those around them.

Next week will see the opening of Manchester Central as a temporary hospital. We are really lucky to have such a resource on our doorstep should we unfortunately require it. This does however bring logistical challenges of food, accommodation and medical equipment, as well as safety and security. You will without doubt see an increased activity across the city centre as a result.

Thank you to those businesses who have stepped in to assist key workers at this difficult time through accommodation, food and transport.

The NHS are doing an outstanding job; I have two sisters and a sister-in-law who are all nurses/midwives, the hours they are working and risks that they and their colleagues are taking to care for others is really difficult to understand without seeing and they all have my absolute admiration.

I have been on site a number of times during the hospital build and had close liaison with my Chief Inspector counterpart from specialist operations planning. We have suitable plans in place for any eventuality and what you will see is likely to look very similar to the operation we put in place for the Conservative Party conference.

For health reasons and infection control there is no access to the site for visitors or press and Manchester Central will be protected by police and private security.

With Kind Regards
Zac Fraser
Chief Inspector 15407
City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team
Greater Manchester Police