Neon signs, screeching car tires and screams of men urging me into their store.
A short distance from Manchester Victoria station, walking along Bury New Road feels like a world away from the city center.
A few feet from Strangeways Prison, I am faced with a complete onslaught of my senses.
And one thing is immediately clear – I suddenly feel very uncomfortable.
READ MORE:Terrified woman living in “absolutely anarchic” suburb speaks out
It’s no secret that the area of Bury New Road between Manchester city center and Broughton in Salford has been a problem for the police for many years.
Officers openly admitted that “deep-rooted problems” existed in the area, including the sale of drugs, counterfeit clothing and harassment on the streets.
But residents who use the road to go about their daily business complain that the situation is becoming unbearable and say the area has indeed become “lawless”.
One young woman even described the commute to work in the city center as a ‘challenge yourself’ as the streets are overrun with groups of ‘intimidating men’.
As stories continue to emerge that paint a picture of an area that is totally out of control, we took a walk down Bury New Road to find out if things had gotten as bad as people say.
This is what happened when journalist Sophie Halle-Richards visited this week
As I begin my walk from the prison towards Salford, I notice in front of me two girls rolling suitcases as they appear to be looking for their accommodation for the night.
It is 3:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon and the region is a real hive of activity.
Soon after, the girls are approached by many young men walking the street. A man asks if the “pretty” women want to go up to his clothing store.
They politely refuse and quickly walk up the street. He seems to follow them for a few seconds before turning around.
One of the girls looks over her shoulder in my direction and gives me an embarrassed smile of appreciation about what we both just saw.
I smile back reassuringly. They branch off to Howard Street in search of their accommodation, leaving me to continue the walk on my own.
As I walk back down Bury New Road towards Manchester city center across the road, I am stopped by dozens of men, all trying to get me into their stores.
They all ask me what I’m buying. It seems almost impossible to them that I can use this stretch of public sidewalk to go about my daily business.
I try to push my way in front of everyone, politely declining offers from the men telling me to enter their store. While I am doing this, a man stops in front of me and tells me to smile.
I’m pretty disgusted, but I give him what he wants so as not to draw more attention to me. I hear him mumble something under his breath and decide to pick up my pace.
As the downtown skyscrapers draw a little closer, I breathe a sigh of relief. But it is short-lived. Less than 30 seconds later, I am stopped by another man who asks me what I am buying.
I don’t tell him anything, just walk around downtown and thank him anyway.
He laughs and tells me that if I’m not here to buy anything I should walk across the street or else I’ll keep getting harassed.
These men appear to have genuinely requisitioned the streets, using intimidation and harassment tactics to try to get people to spend money in their stores.
I ignore the man and keep walking. Why should someone who lives here change their route to avoid being harassed?
Finally, I’m almost back to Strangeways and think I can start to relax. But then I notice two men blocking the sidewalk as they appear to be playing cricket with each other.
I stop to see if they stop throwing the ball in the air to let me pass, but of course they don’t. I am thinking of crossing the road but due to the speed of some cars I think better.
Instead, I’m forced to walk around them, hoping the bullet doesn’t come close to my face.
The whole experience is extremely uncomfortable and intimidating, and I realize how different things are depending on whether you are male or female.
When my male colleague was walking along the same stretch of road, at the same time, he was not insulted or approached by men in the same way as I was.
He was able to walk past the crowds of barely noticed men, until he made eye contact with a man who came over and offered to sell him drugs.
A resident said when she walked along Bury New Road with her boyfriend, she was never harassed or disturbed by men.
But as soon as she goes out alone, she says, “I know for a fact that I’m going to be approached by men. You always feel in danger when you’re alone around here.”
I can pretty much take it for the short ten minutes I spend there, but what about the people who live here and have no other path to town if they want to walk?
What I have been through is enough for anyone to take their car, or just not care at all.
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Superintendent Helen Critchley, of GMP’s Manchester division, said she wanted to reassure the local community that the police were working to address the concerns of local residents.
“We have dedicated patrols and a community plan in place in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area to target drug dealing, and we are working with our partners to tackle deep rooted issues in the area, including the sale of clothing. counterfeits and harassment in the street, ”she said.
A crucial part of tackling this issue comes from the information provided by members of the public, which can help identify application opportunities around individuals or vehicles.
“Anyone wishing to provide information or raise concerns can do so through the GMP or Crimestoppers website. “
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