Manchester remains tense as rumours circulate of the riots of the past few days spreading into the city, and police set up tactical units in the city centre.
In mid-afternoon a Tactical Aid Unit (TAU), comprised of three police vans with dogs, joined the two police vans in the Gardens, but the officers seemed fairly relaxed and were seen walking about chatting to passers-by.
Several cafes in the Gardens had put their shutters up early, but others remained open and outdoor tables and seating remained out.
Yet a recent statement from Greater Manchester Police is that ‘no shops closing early, increased patrols but no suggestion there’ll be any trouble, monitoring social networks for incitement.’
Twitter was awash with rumours of trouble breaking out from first thing in the morning, with initial postings suggesting that the trouble had already arrived in the city last night – though this has so far remained unproven.
However, the GMP made clear that there had been no incidents in Manchester overnight.
Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: “I, like the majority of people in this country, am appalled by the mindless acts of criminality and violence that we have seen over the last few days.
“I want to reassure the public of Greater Manchester that there have been no disturbances or incidents of disorder or rioting here since trouble flared in London over the weekend.
“We are monitoring the situation extremely closely and are prepared to deal with any situations that may arise.”
POLICE PRESENCE: Officers give the public advice in Piccadilly Gardens
As the day wore on the rumours continued to escalate, with claims of rioting in Manchester city centre being rapidly met with counter-claims that all was well and appeals for calm.
Concerns were fuelled by rumours that Greater Manchester Police had sent around 100 officers and riot vans down to London to help quell the unrest in the capital.
Tweeters reported that organised groups of troublemakers had arranged to meet in Manchester at midnight and at 4pm, with rumours that groups of troublemakers involved in the disturbances in other cities were making their way north by train.
Police Community Support Officers were visible in Piccadilly Gardens from late morning onwards, but the square remained fairly quiet and clear of trouble.
Further rumours circulated that police had been called to Oxford Street and officers in riot gear were being deployed in Market Street, while speculation grew about trouble in outlying areas of the city.
Greater Manchester Police tweeted: “Lots of rumours about Salford Precinct. These are not true. We are monitoring and will provide updates later.
As the city geared up for potential trouble, analysts and commentators rushed to give their explanations behind the unfolding crisis.
Professor Gus John of the Moss Side Defence Committee in Manchester told the BBC News Channel the young people involved in the unrest have lost hope in their futures.
“We’re dealing with a betrayed generation of young people,” he said.
“They have been marginalized from any debate about the country’s future and they are making themselves heard on the streets.”
Popular tweets called for calm and an end to the violence.
Smithfieldwine commented: “Batten down and stay safe people.”
DevonAnderson87 tweeted: “I’m really rating Manchester right now, only city to not jump on the bandwagon.” down and
Lizzlesss wrote: “Manchester you are the best city in the uk, please keep this title by not joining in with this silly behaviour.”
Only 20 minutes ago @gini_ginelli tweeted: “Been told by work to leave prompt and not stay late- rumours are its going to kick off in Manchester! Police ready in riot gear apparently!”
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