Railway stations in Manchester are set to receive an increase in security in response to growths in new patterns of crime such as violent offences, terror offences and Country Lines exploitation.
Dog units and firearms officers are being introduced to Manchester Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria as part of Operation Sentinel, a project which aims to crack down on serious crimes across the UK.
The new measures of security are being introduced at the three city stations to catch criminals at what officials have described as crucial ‘pinch points’ where police have the opportunity to intervene before any serious crime is committed.
Inspector Anthony Swallow told the Manchester Evening News that Operation Sentinel is already seeing successful results, with a 33% reduction in weapons-based offences in 2019 as to the number of incidents in 2018. He emphasised that the public should not be alarmed by the rise in policing in major stations.
Alongside dogs and firearms officers, the operation has also introduced Behavioural Detection Officers (BDOs), plain-clothed officers who work day and night to “identify indicators that might suggest there’s something more that we can explore in terms of behaviour”.
Based on their observations, the BDOs are able to carry out a stop and search or an arrest of a member of the public. Station visitors may also be asked to go through a ‘knife-arch’ before entering the city to ensure they are not carrying a potentially lethal weapon.
Inspector Swallow told the MEN that the operation represented a distinctively new style of policing in Manchester, saying: “Good policing is good customer service, if we’re operating in our areas of control, like the stations, being polite and professional, I think it’s what people would expect. It’s a little less reactive and more pro-active. It’s how it should be. It’s not just big hats and yellow jackets any more.”
He added: “BTP has moved with the times, we’ve become a very specialised police force. Our officers receive extra training to arm themselves with the skills required. Even in my time on the force, I’ve been here 12 years, it’s really changed.”