POLICE have hailed some early success in their operation to prevent trouble in the run-up to tonight’s Bonfire Night celebrations.
Reports of firework-related antisocial behaviour last Friday and Saturday nights were down 40 per cent on the equivalent nights last year. And police said there had been no serious incidents so far.
Last year Edinburgh saw a night of mayhem on November 5 as cars were torched, firefighters attacked and a woman police officer suffered serious burns after being hit by a rocket.
This year police are mounting extra high-visibility patrols and have declared four dispersal zones, covering last year’s hotspots, where they have powers to disband groups of troublemakers.
Chief Inspector David Robertson, who is leading the bonfire season operation, said police had mounted an estimated 1800 hours of additional patrols since the crackdown began on Friday night. Early indications were that reports of firework-related antisocial behaviour on the first two nights of the operation were down from 42 to 25.
“We have issued four antisocial behaviour fixed penalty tickets, made two arrests and issued three warnings under the dispersal zones.
“We’ve had a really high visibility presence. I feel that preventive approach is working and we have not had any significant incidents to date, but I’m cautious because it’s still early – we’ve not had Bonfire Night yet.”
Five men who took part in last year’s trouble were placed on overnight curfews for six months when they appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday.
Chief Insp Robertson said: “If there is a small minority of people intending causing disorder I would ask them to think of the consequences of their actions, the impact their behaviour could have on members of the public, children and families and the risk they put people at as well as the risk to their own personal future.
“Misuse of fireworks can cause them life-lasting injuries and, as we saw with the five men sentenced on Friday, their behaviour will be viewed in the most serious terms by the courts.”
Meanwhile, an experienced firefighter has told of his constant fear for his crew’s safety as they responded to Bonfire Night calls last year.
Watch manager Glynn McAffer said: “It was like a war zone when we arrived. My first thought was: ‘I’m not going in there’. I had no choice but to call our operations control and inform them we required a police presence to ensure the safety of our firefighters.
“It’s difficult as you are there to do a job and protect the community but there is of course a frustration as you have come to hose down what they call fun. I have to think of the personal safety of my crew and – if there are too many of them – we’ll just leave.”