COPS racing to protect under siege residents in north Edinburgh during Bonfire Night rampages found themselves pinned down and under attack from gangs of youths who tried to smash their way into their vehicle using paving slabs, rocks and rockets, top brass revealed today.
One of the city’s most senior officers told for the first time how six colleagues found themselves trapped by a baying mob of hooded and masked teenagers on wasteland off Pennywell Road in Muirhouse.
That was a moment a heroic WPC was left horrifically burned by a fire-work when they turned on her.
Moments earlier a police car had its windscreen smashed in. While another van load of cops narrowly escaped when a gang of 50 rampaging youths ambushed them under a hail of fireworks and projectiles.
Admitting Police Scotland had no prior warning of the mayhem that was to follow, Chief Inspector Stevie Sutherland hit out at the four-hour rampage and described the terrifying moment his officers found themselves under siege trying to help locals.
READ MORE: Firefighters attacked as fireraising mars Bonfire Night celebrations
He said: “This group turned on the officers and started throwing fireworks, stones and paving slabs at them. Officers have tried to shelter in the vehicles and an officer has been struck in the neck and upper torso by a firework causing a serious burn.”
CI Sutherland said the Muirhouse community officer was taken to A&E at the Western General and is still off work injured. She will be offered counselling to cope with the trauma.
He said: “I spoke to her initially and she was really angry at what happened – A, that she was injured and B, that they’d completely turned on her.”
Youths then returned back to West Pilton, where they were earlier in the evening, hurling fireworks under cars and buses as they went.
The force helicopter was called in along with anti-riot advisors to help deal with the ensuing chaos.
READ MORE: Bonfire Night carnage: Youths bring night of terror to community
“A police van had to do an emergency stop and about-turn because about 50 youths smashed its windows throwing rocks and fireworks,” said CI Sutherland.
The group of youths, some believed to be aged as young as 12 and as old as around 20, only halted their fierce assault when they ran out of missiles.
He said it was “premeditated badness” and defended his officers’ tactics saying the response were governed by a “risk assessment”.
“One of the most significant things when dealing with public disorder is it has to be intelligence led – and we didn’t have that,” said CI Sutherland, “We won’t start Bonfire Night with shields and helmets – that’s not the style of policing we want in this area.”
He urged locals to shun the anti “grassing culture” and help track down culprits. “The majority of the kids in this area are fantastic and the work of community groups is amazing. If you live in this area, you can’t continue to tolerate your neighbour or neighbour’s lad with a mask on his face throwing fireworks at kids.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact police directly on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Mother asks why police weren’t ready
A YOUNG mum targeted by Bonfire Night thugs has asked why police failed to do more to stop the mob.
She questions whether police were able to cope – or if they did enough.
The 28-year-old tells how she cowered in her home as one yob torched her car on the driveway – with her 11-month-old’s child seat and toys inside.
The tattooist was watching her written-off VW Polo getting towed away yesterday from the front window of her West Pilton home with her son.
“I’m surprised something like that could happen,” said the mother-of-one, who only moved into the flat with her fiancé and son in June.
“Why didn’t they send more policemen to catch them or stop them?
“They knew about it. It’s not the first time it’s happened – why weren’t the police prepared?”
Other problems in the area in recent months have included a burnt-out motorbike on parkland, she said.
Brazen youths are even riding a bike around naked apart from wearing masks, she added.
The mother now faces having to fetch the family’s groceries without a car.
A 19-year-old supermarket worker living nearby said: “At about 8pm, police in a car were driving past when a group threw firework grenades at the police car – they just left and I would have too.”