POTENTIAL Bonfire Night troublemakers were bussed out of the Capital to prevent any repeat of last year’s mayhem.
Youth clubs across the city came up with a raft of activities – with one Muirhouse group laying on a silent disco, gladiator duels and pizza making in Ratho.
Edinburgh’s top cop hailed the outreach work as one important measure in helping slash calls from scared residents by more than a quarter.
Chief superintendent Gareth Blair said: “Clearly we had a busy weekend and a busy night but what we categorically did not see is the widespread disorder from last year.”
Mr Blair said calls to police were down to expected levels for Bonfire Night and praised the “prevention intervention and rehabilitation” approach. “I’ve always said the vast majority of Edinburgh public enjoy the bonfire weekend and it’s very much a minority that causes the bother,” he added.
“As you’d expect police and partners would far rather prevent and reduce antisocial behaviour prior to it. As part of that, a number of young individuals taken away for the weekend for rehabilitative activities.”
Between Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night, reported antisocial behaviour in the city fell from 747 incidents last year to 552 this year – 195 fewer calls and a drop of 26 per cent. There were also 28 fewer offences involving fireworks across the Capital – equating to an 11 per cent fall.
Chair of Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, said events from last year led to the creation of a dedicated Bonfire Community Improvement Partnership to reduce the levels of vandalism, antisocial behaviour and violence.
“Plans included exploring ways of engaging young people in the lead up to November 5 alongside youth groups and clubs, early indications are that these measures have proven to have had a positive effect,” she added.
Pockets of “small disorder, disturbances and reckless behaviour” were reported in the North West and North East of Edinburgh – with some antisocial behaviour in the South West and South East. Officers are investigating after seven vehicles parked in West Pilton were damaged. The North East, which includes Loganlea where trouble flared last year saw antisocial behaviour calls drop by more than half (53 per cent) on Bonfire Night.
And in the North West – covering another hotspot of Drylaw and Pilton – calls dropped by more than a third. Nine arrests were made on the evening, with eight relating to culpable and reckless conduct and breaches of the peace, and a further on an outstanding warrant. Three youths were also charged for illegal possession of fireworks – but officers in protective gear on standby were not deployed.
Groups of youths were moved on 13 times from dispersal zones.
Tory shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “The police are right to look at ways of reducing trouble over this period, and this could be an effective way of doing that,” he said. “There certainly appears to have been an improvement in antisocial behaviour. However, it’s not sustainable to do it every time there’s a chance of youths causing trouble.”
“As well as removing them from the scene, it’s important these weekends are used to make clear to them in no uncertain terms that trouble won’t be tolerated.”