Patrol of the Christmas markets. Op Servator

This weekend sees the return of the Christmas markets after their absence last year due to the pandemic, and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are eager to welcome people back into the city centre to enjoy the event which will be spread across a number of locations within the city.

GMP has worked alongside Manchester City Council and other partners to ensure that those visiting the markets feel safe and reassured.

GMP will be providing increased visibility of officers during the Christmas Markets in Manchester City Centre this year, with additional neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs on duty around the markets, as well as specialist police officers including plain clothed officers and firearms officers.

While members of the public are likely to see armed officers at the markets, this is not in response to any specific threat but to simply provide visible reassurance. A similar approach to armed policing at previous Christmas markets received positive feedback from members of the public.

Project Servator will also be in effect in December which involves unpredictable, highly visible Police deployments, involving a broad range of assets including specially trained officers, supported by community engagement and communications to help disrupt hostile reconnaissance and criminality whilst reassuring and engaging the public.

Superintendent Graeme Openshaw, of GMP’s Specialist Operations Branch, said: “As front line responders we understand that the public want to see more officers out and about in Greater Manchester, particularly when they are at large events.

“We hope by increasing our armed officer visibility, it shows that we do listen to feedback and this move will make you feel safer and more relaxed while out enjoying yourselves.

“I know some people can find armed officers intimidating and might feel nervous about seeing them, however we’d like to reassure people that they are there to help in any way they can, just like unarmed officers you’d see on patrol.

“They are normal people just like you and me, with families and friends, and I am sure that they would appreciate hellos, smiles and friendly words whilst carrying out their duties.

“Our number one priority is keeping the public safe and if this increased visibility helps people feel more at ease, then we see this as a positive step.”