Bonfire Night mayhem: No-go areas cover more than 300 Edinburgh streets

FULL details and scale of enforced dispersal zones to crackdown on fireworks yobs in Edinburgh this Bonfire Night have been revealed.

Thursday, 25th October 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th October 2018, 2:03 pm

The powers will allow police to disband groups of troublemakers in more than 300 streets across Portobello, Pilton, Craigentinny and Muirhouse.

It follows a night of mayhem last year in which cars were torched, firefighters attacked and a woman police officer suffered serious burns after being hit by a rocket.

“This caused alarm and distress for our communities and is completely unacceptable,” said superintendent Bob Paris, of last year’s violence.

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Police got more than 250 calls last year

“We are confident that these dispersal zones will enable us to robustly tackle antisocial behaviour and general disorder in key areas of the city.”

The four zones cover hotspots of trouble from last year and will be in force between 2pm and midnight from Wednesday, October 31 to Tuesday, November 6.

Police will be able to move on any groups of two or more troublemakers who live outside the area, ban them from returning for up to 24 hours and arrest them if they come back.

Introduced into law in 2004, such zones were first used in the Capital a year later to target aggressive drunks in Hunter Square.

But their use is thought to be unprecedented in the city for Bonfire Night – the result of talks between police, city council officials and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

SFRS Assistant Chief Officer David McGown said: “Antisocial behaviour such as deliberate fire-raising and the abuse of emergency service workers is completely unacceptable – and will never be tolerated.”

Mr McGown said firefighters regularly warn of the “loss and devastation” fireworks and bonfires can cause.

“It beggars belief when I hear that our firefighters have been physically assaulted or verbally abused when responding to an emergency,” he added.

“This not only prevents our crews from bringing any emergency to a safe and swift conclusion but it can impact on our emergency service colleagues including the police when they have to escort us at the scene.”

The Portobello zone covers 107 streets from Joppa along the beachfront to King’s Road in Seafield.

It then joins the Craigentinny zone which covers a further 84 streets up to Restalrig and Lochend.

Pilton’s dispersal zone runs north of Ferry Road from Pilton Drive through 84 streets to Pennywell Road.

There it meets the Muirhouse zone which stretches over 39 streets to the edge of Silverknowes.

Senior officers are at pains to stress the dispersal zones will be patrolled by regular officers with more on duty this year. But officers will be able to call in specialist support if required – including riot police in protective gear and the force helicopter.

Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership chair Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan said: “We are supportive of the use of dispersal zones. We want everyone to enjoy a fun and most importantly safe Guy Fawkes Night.”