Is Manchester safe? A complete safety guide for Manchester

*TW: Manchester bombing, sexual assault*

Is Manchester safe? Any question like that is difficult to answer. In theory, any place has the potential to be unsafe. It is easy to brush safety off as something you get with a bit of luck. However, this guide will analyse whether Manchester is safe more closely.

First off, let’s talk statistics. The 2022 OFS crime statistics found Greater Manchester the third most dangerous region in England. Per 1,000 people, Greater Manchester reported 107.9 crimes. Of these crimes, 40 were violent crimes like sexual assault, murder, and knife crimes.

These stats show Manchester to be one of the most dangerous places in England. But there is lots more that you should know. What areas should you avoid? Is Manchester safe at night? How safe is Manchester, and what makes certain aspects of the city so dangerous?

Let’s delve straight in.

Is it safe to visit Manchester?

Manchester City Centre.
Manchester City Centre via Unsplash.

Firstly, how safe is Manchester to visit as a tourist? If you keep your wits about you, it is safe to visit Manchester. It may be one of England’s most crime-ridden spots, but many high-crime areas are on the outskirts – far away from the city centre. A daytime shopping trip around the Northern Quarter is unlikely to end in crime, and there are so many things to do in Manchester that it is well worth a visit.

One thing to be wary about in Manchester is petty crime, like pickpocketing and robbery. Always keep your valuables securely stowed away, preferably in inside pockets. When walking through Manchester, you should try to stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Particularly avoid being distracted on your phone while walking through the city centre. Not only are trams a risk, but you make yourself a more tempting target for theft or assault.

Even in the city centre, you should avoid taking shortcuts and detours along quiet backroads. Where possible, always visit Manchester in a group, as most crimes against visitors in the city centre are committed against those alone.

All in all, it is safe for tourists to visit Manchester. Most visits go without incident, there is a high-security presence, and the streets are busy enough to provide a safety net for people.

Is it safe to live in Manchester?

A Manchester street.
A Manchester street via Unsplash.

Living in Manchester is a little less safe than just visiting. Staying safe while living in Manchester massively depends on where you choose to live and the preventative measures you actively take.

For example, if you purchase a ground flat, you will be a prime target for robberies. This risk would then be amplified if you didn’t invest in adequate security or forgot to lock your door when leaving for work one day. Manchester is not the place to test your faith in humanity.

Similarly, if you live in Manchester and have an evening running schedule, you wouldn’t want to run with earphones down dimly lit roads. Even during the daytime, investing in a gym membership or a treadmill at home may be safer.

Don’t get me wrong, living in Manchester is fantastic. The city is massively popular with students and young professionals and has an electric atmosphere with plenty going on. Manchester is up and coming and funky in every aspect – a perfectly imperfect city to live in.

But, to live in Manchester safely, you’ll need to be dedicated to making ongoing decisions and lifestyle choices that prioritise staying safe. Research prospective areas and practise safe daily habits, and you’ll have a great time.

Is it safe for solo females in Manchester?

A woman alone in the city.
A woman alone in the city via Unsplash.

Is Manchester safe for solo females? Not really. On average, there is one sexual assault reported every day in Manchester, which is a terrifying statistic for lone females. There are frequent needle and drink spiking incidents, lots of catcalling, and incidents where women are physically attacked after rejecting (typically) male advances.

As a bit of personal insight, my younger sister attended the University of Manchester and lived on the Fallowfield campus. My sister took measures that most would probably think are extreme. She never travelled alone after dark, limited where she went alone during the day, and drove with her friends when she could. She also avoided taxis completely, only taking an Uber when absolutely necessary with a group.

While this may sound extreme, it has worked. She is lucky to have left university unscathed, unlike many women who have experienced extreme sexual harassment or sexual assault during their time at university. The stories you hear are terrifying, especially when they happen so close to home and to people you know. There have been armed burglaries and break-ins that resulted in sexual assault. Most recently, there was a stabbing outside her old address at around midnight.

A better way to phrase the question is if Manchester is manageable for solo females. In this case, yes. Manchester can be manageable for solo females. But you should feel confident de-escalating unwanted advances, arrive well-prepared with knowledge of the good and bad areas, and be happy to stay inside your accommodation at night.

Is Manchester safe at night?

A street at night in Manchester.
A street at night in Manchester via Unsplash.

Let’s just say that safety in Manchester at night is not guaranteed. Even when actively managing risks, you can be lucky or unlucky. At night the risk of sexual assault, physical assault, and theft increases. People get rowdier with alcohol and party drugs in the city centre, and limited lighting means that quieter streets become hotspots for undetected crime.

What makes safety in Manchester City Centre manageable at night is the high police presence on the street. Police are quick to the scene and help displace crime from the busier, most popular areas. Similarly, security staff are generally good in Manchester – even if you get the rogue bouncer on an ego trip.

In Manchester, crowds are your friends, and most people are friendly and quick to jump to your aid if you need it. The student atmosphere adds an element of community to Manchester at night. You’ll have plenty of company if you go out on student nights.

It is best to travel in groups to maximise your safety at night in Manchester. As backwards as it sounds, mixed-gender groups can provide a bit more security as well. Be mindful of getting a taxi at night, as there is a history of cab drivers assaulting and robbing passengers. Uber is good as it tracks your drive, and you can easily screenshot the car and driver details and send them to your family and friends. However, most people catch buses in large groups trouble-free.

Is Manchester Gay Village safe?

A sign in Gay Village.
A sign in Gay Village via Unsplash.

How safe is Manchester Gay Village? Manchester Gay Village is fun but not necessarily safe. ‘Village’ is meant to be the life and soul of Manchester’s party yet often ends up more like fire meet gasoline. By all means, have fun and let your hair down; just stay mindful of your surroundings and know that excessive alcohol can fuel violence for many people.

Let’s start with the positives, though. Manchester Gay Village is lively and flamboyant – everything you look for in a wild night out. Canal Street runs straight through the heart of the district and has all the best bars and clubs. The industrial red brick buildings and canal make Manchester Gay Village reminiscent of Amsterdam’s party streets, and there is a fantastic atmosphere to lap up.

But what should you watch out for to stay safe in Manchester Gay Village? Firstly, spiking. Until recently, spiking was done mainly by drugging drinks. But, while you should still take preventative cautions for drink spiking, be aware that some people now spike through injection. Be vigilant and pay attention if someone brushes up against you. You can also try to sit or stand at a distance from others so that an injection attempt would be obvious. Many people have been spiked via injection in Manchester Gay Village, some of whom are hospitalised. If you black out and find a suspicious mark the next day, it is crucial to get checked due to the risk of contaminated needles.

The other danger in Manchester Gay Village is arguments and unprovoked attacks. The district has a history of regular interactions escalating into violence. To help limit your chance of experiencing violence, de-escalate hostile interactions where possible and moderate your drinking. If you feel out of your depth, speak to security or police if you feel unsafe or threatened.

Is Manchester Arena safe?

People partying in the concert arena.
People partying in the concert arena via Unsplash.

*TW: Manchester bombing*
Is Manchester Arena safe? Yes, as of 2022, many security measures are in place, so don’t be put off by the arena’s tragic history.

Tragedy hit Manchester Arena in 2017 when a suicide bomber set off a catastrophic device at an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 and injuring 1,017. Security measures at Manchester Arena came under severe criticism. Many policies and protocols have since been completely reviewed and strengthened.

The suicide bomber had gone undetected with a suspicious bag at Victoria Train Station and in the Manchester Arena Foyer. Parents waiting to pick up children had notified security about the man with concerns. Still, security had dismissed the fears as ungrounded. Perhaps even worse, the police officers, due to be patrolling at the time, had unauthorisedly decided to extend their break. Their actions meant no police presence to deter or prevent the incident.

On the day of the attack, security failed in almost every aspect. However, since then, the backlash has been so fierce that Manchester Arena has been forced to create a water-tight security system. All staff receive counter-terrorism training, visitors pass through screening arches, no bags larger than an A3 piece of paper are allowed, detection dogs are present, and police presence is sky-high. Now, yes, Manchester Arena is safe.

What are no-go areas in Manchester?

A danger sign.
A danger sign via Unsplash.

When wondering, ‘is Manchester safe?’, you have probably started to consider which areas you should or shouldn’t avoid. While you should always remain vigilant wherever you are, these are no-go areas with the highest crime rates.

– Moss Side
– Gorton
– Broughton Park
– Clayton
– Burnage
– Ashton under Lyne

It is best to avoid booking accommodation in these areas. Otherwise, none of them are full of tourist attractions that would entice you to visit, so it should be easy to avoid these no-go areas in Manchester.

Top tips on how to stay safe in Manchester

Friends chatting around a table.
Friends chatting around a table via Unsplash.

Passively hoping that you’ll stay safe doesn’t really work in Manchester. These are some top tips for having a fantastic, safe visit.

  • Have a plan.

This might sound unnecessary, especially for those who like to ‘wing it’. However, having a plan is a great way to stay safe in Manchester.

If you have a plan, you know where you are going and when. You walk confidently and purposefully – dissuading others from viewing you as a target. Waiting times at bus stops and stations are limited, as you arrive just on time. You also have reliable information on your whereabouts that you can pass to loved ones. This means people can check in to see if you are safe and have arrived at your next destinations.

  •  Limit time spent outside after dark.

It isn’t fun advice, but it will help you stay safe. Evaluate how necessary travelling around Manchester is after dark, and if you head out for a meal or night out, concentrate on getting safely from A to B. It is always best to plan your journey ahead of time.

  • Invest in your security.

Whether that is the latest burglar-proof locks, window grids, or a personal alarm. Invest in your security so that you have the tools to prevent crime should it arrive, quite literally, on your doorstep.

Even the mindset of investing in your security is essential. For example, paying a little extra to get an Uber rather than walking fifteen minutes along a sketchy road.

  • Travel in groups

In Manchester, safety in numbers should become your mantra.

During the day, travelling around the city in groups will reduce the likelihood of you being targeted by criminals. At night, travelling in a group becomes a necessity if you want to manage your safety proactively.

  • Limit your alcohol intake

Again, this isn’t the most fun piece of advice that you’ll receive. However, limiting your alcohol intake will increase your safety in Manchester ten fold.

If you moderate your alcohol consumption, you reduce the likelihood of being robbed, attacked, or assaulted. You are more likely to have a pleasant evening and, if you take it slow, it will be more obvious to people around you if you’ve been spiked. Plus, your bank account and head will thank you in the morning.

So, how safe is Manchester? As you can see, the answer to that question is primarily down to you. Stay aware and input some of these safety precautions, and you should have a fantastic time. Don’t forget to have fun as well! Manchester is one of the UK’s best cities and is well worth the extra effort.

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