It was once known as a quiet side street offering a short cut between Kings St and St. Ann St; however Greater Manchester Police (GMP) released a statement this week explaining that as a result of high levels of crime, Police St would no longer be patrolled.
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 book shop that customers are mild mannered but it just 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; however the back entrance is situated on Police St and businesses that operate in and around the area are concerned. Eyewitness accounts of the goings on liken Police St to scenes of 1980’s 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: “The figures have been blown out of proportion. The store has seen a tiny amount of unruly behaviour but to cease a police presence in the area, we see it as 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 frontline. 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 stores 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
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