LGBT community vow to tackle Gay Village’s soaring crime and save ‘jewel in Manchester’s nightlife crown’

By John McDougall

Manchester’s Gay Village must be made safer to stop it being closed down say Manchester police – and now community groups are vowing to tackle the soaring crime levels.

Though crime across Manchester City Centre has generally fallen, offences including binge-drinking, drunken disorder and violence have persisted in the Village.

Superintendent Stuart Ellison believes despite the Village being a jewel in Manchester’s nightlife, these problems have escalated over the past five years and must be addressed.

He told MM: “As crime has come down across the city centre in general in all crime categories, there is a stubborn bit with violent crime in the Village.

“It’s clearly generating a risk for those on the street as we’re seeing more violent crime there.

“We need the wider community to see this as their problem, as Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is not going to solve this on its own.

“The Village is a leading light in the night-time economy and has been there for years with very strong heritage.”

Manchester City Centre has more than 600 late night premises, with the Village one of the hubs for party goers and those on a night out.

Some of the contributing factors to crime in the Village include congestion from taxis, late opening hours of bars and clubs and increasing numbers of takeaway outlets.

Superintendent Ellison believes the latter duo attracts people to the area and becoming a last port of call for those on a night out.

“The Village has become that last port of call for a wide range of people,” he said. 

“Despite its heritage as the Gay Village, I think there’s an element of hen and stag nights and it feels like Blackpool Prom at four or five in the morning.

“We do need the support of the community groups, the council and all the support groups to take some ownership of it and support us in just trying to make it safer.

“Our game is to make the Village safer and support a vibrant night-time economy. Our end-game at GMP is not to see the place closed down – we just want to make it safer.”    

A year ago, Manchester City Council (MCC) and GMP agreed a joint action plan to tackle issues not just in the Village but across all of central Manchester. forms the heart of the village and an organisation spokesman felt the area’s future is by no means in doubt, but acknowledged action should be taken to combat crime.  

“It seems incomprehensible that the Gay Village could be potentially dead any time soon,” they said.

“There are, of course, many issues facing the area and they must be addressed as soon as possible.

“However, with thousands visiting the area, day and night each week, most of whom enjoy themselves safely, it’s important to include some balanced perspective.”

In February, the ‘Village Charter’ was implemented and brought together the Village Business Association, bars, clubs and charities vow to combat negative behaviour in the area.

Paul Martin OBE, Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) chief executive feels it is imperative the Village community work together to make the area safer and a better place.  

“There are many organisations and groups who are passionate about working together to make The Village a better place for all,” he said.

“The LGF continues to work with agencies including MCC and GMP in order to keep The Village a safe and welcoming space for the community.

“We urge anyone who experiences crime in the Village Area to report it and we can support them in this.”

Manchester Pride – one of the city’s leading LGBT charities – have also thrown their support behind making the Village safer, but believe this will take time.

Chief executive John Stewart said: “Every area with a strong night-time economy faces challenges and the Village is no different.

“For the majority of visitors, the Village continues to be a welcoming space where diverse LGBT communities can be themselves and feel safe.

“However, with public sector budgets continuing to come under pressure, investment in community safety measures and other changes are not going to happen overnight.”

Picture courtesy of Emilestefanov, with thanks.

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