Police arrest 395 in Manchester crime crackdown

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The Independent Online

A massive crackdown on booze-fuelled violence has seen almost 400 suspects arrested, police said today.

A total of 395 were held after the 24-hour blitz, named Operation Portcullis, was launched by police chiefs in Greater Manchester.

The operation began with early morning raids across the city yesterday aimed at tracking down criminals suspected of drink-fuelled crime and culminating with a "lock-down" of the city centre last night.

Safety arches were used in the busy city centre throughout the night to put a stop to people carrying weapons and officers had dogs trained to sniff out drugs.

Significant seizures took place throughout the day, including two cannabis farms uncovered and a shotgun with 50 live cartridges found.

Two men were arrested on suspicion of rape, and over 40 young people were referred to youth agencies.

Thirty-eight people have appeared in court.

Officers also visited pubs and clubs to ensure owners were sticking to their licensing agreements.

Terry Sweeney, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Violent crime is something that people always tell us they want tackling so it was important we made this operation a success.

"Thousands of people flock to Manchester every weekend and the vast majority want to have a good time without fear of becoming a victim of crime.

"It is a safe city and we want to make sure that people stay safe and also feel as safe as possible.

"That is why we are grateful to everyone who co-operated with us last night when officers were searching people.

"We are not here to stop people having fun but the message is clear that if you do go out, have too many drinks and get involved with violent crime then you will be brought to justice."

Operation Portcullis involved a range of agencies, including Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Public Health Network and British Transport Police.