Women urged to contact police over ‘Manchester nightlife’ online videos

<span>Nightlife around Deansgate Lock in Manchester. The voyeuristic videos appear to target young women wearing tight clothes or short dresses.</span><span>Photograph: Gary Calton/The Observer</span>
Nightlife around Deansgate Lock in Manchester. The voyeuristic videos appear to target young women wearing tight clothes or short dresses.Photograph: Gary Calton/The Observer

Women who have been secretly filmed on nights out are being urged to contact UK police after videos posted online have racked up millions of views and attracted an abundance of misogynistic comments.

Police are trying to catch people responsible for dozens of voyeuristic TikTok and YouTube videos that have titles such as “Manchester nightlife” and feature women who do not know they are being filmed.

Women have described feeling unsafe after discovering videos of them have been posted online, some of which suggest they are sex workers or invite sexualised comments.

One woman, Meg, who was filmed on Deansgate in Manchester walking to get a taxi with some other women, told the BBC: “I didn’t see him, I didn’t know I was being recorded. I can’t believe I’ve been targeted in that way. He looked at me and thought ‘yeah, I’ll video them’.”

The filmer appears to target young women wearing tight clothes or short dresses, focusing in particular on women who have been drinking. The videos tend to be posted on the same night they are taken.

Greater Manchester police (GMP) said woman had reported seeing a man wearing Ray-Ban-style glasses with a hidden camera inside.

While filming people on a public street is not illegal, it becomes criminal when it constitutes harassment.

Meg said: “I have no words really other than it just made me feel a bit sick. It’s just not nice at all, and obviously not just in a selfish way but also towards the other women. A lot of them will be really, really young girls, maybe even underage girls, not knowing that they were being recorded.

“There’s videos of girls like falling over and having their underwear on show and stuff. And then being posted online like that, something really needs to be done about it.”

Ch Insp Stephen Wiggins said GMP needed women to come forward in order to catch the perpetrator. He said: “We are very much up against it if we don’t get that intelligence, that information, coming from the actual victims and communities themselves.

“We have intervened recently on a number of occasions where we had males acting suspiciously in the city centre. So our plea from our organisation is that people ring us if they see any suspicious behaviour in the city centre.”

TikTok and YouTube told the BBC they had removed a number of videos and accounts relating to this content for violating their guidelines.

A TikTok spokesperson said: “Misogyny is prohibited on TikTok. Any content found to violate these guidelines will be removed.”

However, searching TikTok for “uk nightlife” brings up suggested search terms including “chav girls uk”, “uk slagz fit”, “oops girls no kickers” (sic) and “girls helping me finish”.

Meg said: “They shouldn’t be allowed to be posted online without consent. These videos are creating almost a danger of violence towards women. The video that was took of me was posted on the same night. So if I was still out that night and that video was posted, that creates some sort of danger of violence, I believe.”