Safer Cruising in Manchester

Publish Date: 24/02/2012

Greater Manchester Police are alerting men who have sex with men around the Rochdale Canal near Manchester’s Gay Village to be wary of anti-social behaviour (including attacks and robberies) that are happening in the area that connects the Gay Village with Piccadilly and Ancoats.

‘The Canal’ has long been a popular cruising ground but city centre regeneration schemes have caused an increase in complaints about ‘public decency’ due to the fact that many people live and work in the area.

The message coming out from the police  is for men who do have sex with men in the area to be wary of who they are having sex with as well as making sure they do not cause offence to others.

Greater Manchester Police are currently becoming increasingly concerned about the level of attacks on the men who use the area for cruising as well as acting on complaints from the general public.

PC Sam Tennant of the Village Neighbourhood policing team based at Bootle Street, Manchester says:

"Over the last few months, officers from Operation Limehouse - which has been established to help address an increase in reports of Anti-Social Behaviour along the Rochdale Canal tow-path - have spoken with many people at Piccadilly Basin Undercroft, providing them with crime prevention advice and have found the vast majority of people are willing to discuss matters with Police.

"However, there has been a persistent minority that seems determined to continue with illegal activity in the area.

"In the early hours of Saturday 18th February 2012, two arrests were made where one of accused was detained under suspicion of offences of Possession of a Controlled Substance, Assault Police, Section 47 Assault and Outraging Public Decency.  The other male was arrested under suspicion of Outraging Public Decency.

"Whilst the first male has subsequently been charged for the aforementioned offences, the second admitted his actions at the scene and as a result was de-arrested, receiving a Caution for his behaviour.

"Operation Limehouse will continue and Police (in uniform and plain clothes) will continue to engage with the public in this location and anyone found to be taking part in illegal activity will be liable for arrest."

While there is no law specifically prohibiting cruising, and sex in public places is not illegal, it is important for men who use the area to make sure that other people who might be offended cannot see you and are unaware that you are having sex.

Although police guidelines advise that the police should respond to complaints from the public not mount proactive operations designed to catch people cruising, there are circumstances when the police may mount patrols or intelligence led operations, for example if there are reports of homophobic attacks or robberies.

Further Information

Cruising Cottaging & The Law. This fact sheet tells you about the law and how it applies to cottaging and cruising. It gives suggestions on keeping safe and what to do if you are a victim of a crime whilst cottaging or cruising. It also gives some suggestions on what to do if you experience problems with the police or others whilst cottaging or cruising.

Police Warnings. The police may issue you with a formal warning if they believe someone has committed a minor offence. If a police officer takes your name and address this might mean they will make a formal record of the warning on a database.

Advice if you have been stopped or arrested by the police. The police do not have the right to stop you simply because you identify as a lesbian, gay men, or a bisexual or trans person, or because you are Black or Asian, for example. You also should not be stopped simply because you are in a cruising ground.

LGB&T Police Advice Surgery

If you would like to talk to PC Tennant or other Community PC’s and Support Officers from Greater Manchester Police please attend the free advice surgery that takes place every Thursday evening between 6pm and 8pm at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation Community Resource Centre, Number 5, Richmond Street, Manchester M1 3HF. No appointment is necessary.

For more information, call: 0845 3 30 30 30 from 10am-10pm Mon-Fri, 6pm-10pm on weekends.


    Can a person get in to trouble for simply standing around in the cruising area, and can the police move you on if you are just in the area for a rest. Kind Regards