They once knew it as a quiet side street offering a shortcut between Kings St and St. Ann St; but Greater Manchester Police (GMP) released a statement this week explaining that because of high levels of crime, they would no longer patrol Police St.
GMP said in the last half of 2015 there had been a 35% increase in violent behaviour while anti-social behaviour soared up 70%. When pressed on the cause, GMP singled out Waterstones. DI John Sprinkle said: “People assume because it’s a bookshop that customers are mild-mannered but that isn’t the case.” He pointed out the stores miss-management of caffeine from its Cafe W as the problem.
“They get into arguments,” he said. “It starts as a debate and then voices rise, before you know it they’ve stepped outside to settle differences. It’s the pub mentality and they think because they’re using the back entrance nobody sees them.”
Waterstones has two entrances/exits in the Deansgate store.
The front is accessible on Deansgate; but the back entrance is situated on Police St and businesses operating in and around the area are concerned. Eyewitness accounts of the goings on liken Police St to scenes of 1980s football hooliganism with fighting, chanting, graffiti and even criminal damage of property.
“Bill Bryson’s new book signing was madness. Somebody slapped a police horse…”
So, is this so called lit-violence tarnishing what residents would call the nicer half of the city? The CEO of Waterstones, Shilpa Calhoon, explained: “They have blown the figures out of proportion. The store has seen a tiny amount of unruly behaviour but to ease a police presence in the area, we see it as an overreaction.”
Pressed on the matter of fight club style meet ups at the store or book rucks as they are referred to: “Absolutely not. Waterstones offers a unique experience of book buying coupled with the cafe lifestyle. Our customers are law-abiding citizens they’re hardly the mafia.”
DI Sprinkle sees it differently: “I’ve been there on the front line. Bill Bryson’s new book signing was madness. Somebody slapped a police horse with a hard-back edition. Who does that?”
Online retailers are reaping the rewards of the store’s unnecessary media coverage and public safety concerns. They boasted a growth in sales from Manchester areas as shoppers look to safer options.
DI Sprinkle added: “Who wants to risk a shanking over Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook when you can buy it online from the safety of your own home.”
Chris Hewitt’s indie-published children’s book Saving Christmas is available to buy in paperback and Kindle on Amazon worldwide
Also available on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook and Smashwords.com