Bonfire Night: Edinburgh police to visit homes of potential troublemakers

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Fireworks yobs planning trouble this Bonfire Night can expect a knock at the door from police this week, Edinburgh’s top cop has warned.

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair said tip-offs and trawls of social media have garnered intelligence in an unprecedented operation to prevent a repeat of last year’s mayhem.

A burned out car damaged in last year's Bonfire Night carnage. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL

A burned out car damaged in last year's Bonfire Night carnage. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL

But although he vowed to get tough with any minority hellbent on trouble, Mr Blair said officers will seek to “engage not antagonise”.

He added: “This is not a confrontational policing operation - the majority of the resources that are involved are community officers based in Edinburgh.

“We want everybody to enjoy Halloween and Bonfire Night safely and we want to engage with individuals involved in that and be really friendly.”

But he has sterner words for anyone planning a repeat of last year’s chaos which saw cars torched, a policewoman seriously burnt and firefighters attacked.

Chief Supt Gareth Blair and Chief Inspector Davie Robertson (Left) at St Leonards Police Station. Picture: TSPL

Chief Supt Gareth Blair and Chief Inspector Davie Robertson (Left) at St Leonards Police Station. Picture: TSPL

Mr Blair said: “However, and this is not a challenge, we know what happened last year and I need to ensure my officers are safe, emergency services are safe and the young men and women who are attending these events are safe.

“Yes we will have a good idea who people are who could potentially be causing us a bit of bother.”

More officers will be deployed on beats across the Capital from yesterday while Mr Blair will be able to draw on specialist support November 2 to 6.

A year in the planning, the operation has included school outreach work to warn kids of the danger of fireworks and unauthorised and unsupervised bonfires.

“We’re asking parents do you know where your kids are - do you know they’re safe - trying to get them to ask those questions,” added Mr Blair.

Officers in protective gear including helmets and fire retardant uniforms will be on standby in case trouble flares.

Mr Blair also has off-road bikes at his disposal while a handful of officers will be deployed with DNA spray - initially used in a bid to catch motorcycle thieves.

Only visible under UV lights, the harmless spray stays on skin and clothing, allowing officers to tag any yobs before identifying them later.

“There will be zero tolerance to criminality, if we don’t deal with it on the night we will deal with it robustly afterwards,” said Mr Blair.

“The public have a pride in Edinburgh and they won’t accept anti-social behaviour. We know they have a real pride and they won’t tolerate it.”

“Collectively we’ll be ready for anything that happens. Last year was unacceptable - I cannot allow that to happen again.

“We have to do everything we can to prevent what happened last year and if it starts we need to be in a position to robustly deal with it.”

But he added: “I don’t want to antagonise anyone, I don’t want to have any confrontation. I want to have that engagement process that we’re used to having in Edinburgh.”

Chief Inspector David Robertson is overseeing plans and said: “My job is making sure they’ve got what they need, enough vehicles and officers - everything seems in hand.”