/ Tackling spice in Manchester city centre

Forty seven people have been arrested in connection with dealing spice and 64 users have been referred for support since January of this year as part of an operation to crackdown on drugs and antisocial behaviour in and around Piccadilly Gardens.

All 64 users had their drugs seized and were referred to support services, with nine arrests and three street cautions taking place.

In addition, 18 people have been arrested for dealing cannabis in Piccadilly Gardens, one for dealing crack cocaine and two for dealing heroin.

The work has taken place this year as part of Operation Mandera, which was launched in 2013 by police and partners in response to concerns about antisocial and drug-related activity in Piccadilly Gardens.

Inspector Phil Spurgeon, from GMP’s Manchester city centre team, said: “These figures send a very clear message to anyone dealing or using drugs around Manchester city centre – we are here, we’re taking action and we will absolutely not tolerate it.

“By developing tactics and partnerships, particularly with Manchester City Council’s Antisocial Behaviour Action Team, the CPS and the courts, we have taken dealers off the streets and helped users to get the support that they need, something that will ultimately help us tackle this issue. Since the operation began in 2013, we have also issued 38 cannabis dealers with Criminal Behaviour Orders, banning them from Piccadilly Gardens for between two and five years (one has a lifetime ban). Three spice dealers have also been banned from the area in recent months.

“We are committed to continuing this partnership work to keep Manchester safe for people coming to enjoy our city centre, but we need the continued support of the community in reporting suspicious incidents through 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

Councillor Pat Karney, city centre spokesman for Manchester City Council, said: "We welcome this strong ongoing action by GMP in partnership with the Council. Drug dealing or taking in the city centre is absolutely unacceptable and together we are determined to ensure that Piccadilly Gardens is a welcoming, family-friendly environment."

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