GMP vows to clean up Piccadilly Gardens after concerning rise in ‘anti-social behaviour’

Chief Constable Stephen Watson says a new arm of 'Operation Vulcan' will be introduced in the area "within weeks".

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 31st August 2023

Police in Manchester have vowed to clean up Piccadilly Gardens after a recent concerning rise in incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is now gearing up to introduce Operation Vulcan to the area.

In case you’re not familiar with Operation Vulcan, it was first launched back in 2022, and is GMP’s mission to crackdown on organised crime, the sale of counterfeit goods, and hit the finances of the gangs operating out of the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways areas of Manchester.

But now, the police force is looking to extend the operation to the heart of the city centre, the BBC reports, and Piccadilly Gardens is the first place on the agenda.

Plans to transform Piccadilly Gardens into a ‘welcoming public space’ and one that feels ‘uniquely Mancunian with a strong sense of identity’ are expected to be submitted to Manchester City Council next year – with architects LDA Design having been appointed to take on the task last month.


Local residents, workers, and regular visitors to the city centre, however, will know that the social hub and greenspace is far from that at the moment.

Not only does the area have a long history of anti-social behaviour, drug use, and on occasion, violent crime, but in recent months, there has been a concerning rise in such activity, including a number of large-scale disturbances – which GMP has already committed to leaving “no stone unturned” as officers attempt to find out the masterminds of.


But with GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson confirming that Operation Vulcan is to be brought to the area ‘within weeks’, this reputation could soon change, as he wants to launch a crack-down on people heading there to drink alcohol and smoking cannabis.

Mr Watson said Piccadilly Gardens looks ‘poor’ and ‘attracts too many of the wrong sort of people’.

‘Operation Vulcan’ will be introduced in the area “within weeks” / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Piccadilly Gardens is not the gateway to Manchester that any of us want,” Mr Watson said.


“It looks poor. It attracts too many of the wrong sort of people. It creates a sense of lawlessness and a lack of safety. Too often there’s a smell of cannabis and it does need tidying up.”

He added confirmed that ‘Vulcan Piccadilly’ is “coming soon”.

“I’ve just appointed two additional Chief Inspectors, who will oversee the leadership responsibility, [and] we are absolutely determined to clear up Piccadilly Gardens and we are working really closely with Manchester City Council”.

Manchester City Council’s leader, Bev Craig, also confirmed that the Council will be working with police on the new operation.

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Admitting that Piccadilly Gardens still has “some problems”, she went on to add that the aim of ‘Vulcan Piccadilly’ will be to ensure that “anyone that has any interest in committing a crime won’t be going anywhere near Piccadilly Gardens.”

Featured Image – Manchester City Council