POLICE have been forced to break up fights on Portobello’s promenade as drunken youths drawn to the beach by hot weather sparked fights along the seafront.
Fifteen officers and a police dog were sent to Portobello on Friday night to break up a mass brawl that started just after 8pm.
About 60 youths were involved in the disturbance during a week where the mercury peaked at 28C in the Capital.
Witnesses reported screaming before a series of fights broke out along the promenade and spilled on to Portobello High Street.
One man was arrested by police. Officers were also forced to deal with a second, more minor skirmish at the same location on Saturday evening.
The outbreak of alcohol-fuelled violence came just 48 hours after a community alcohol partnership [CAP] campaign was launched in Portobello and nearby Piershill.
A blacklist of under-age drinkers and adults buying booze for youngsters is to be shared amongst retailers in a city-first scheme. Portobello/Craigmillar Ward Councillor Mike Bridgman, who sits on the council’s licensing board, said rowdy youths were flocking to the seafront from as far afield as Glasgow and Livingston.
He said there was little authorities could do to stop them congregating at the beach, adding: “They’re basically getting inebriated. Youths are coming along with alcohol in juice bottles, which the police have confiscated.
“There was a large congregation of youths and there was people known to the police there as well. There were a couple of assaults at a couple of sites. When they were getting too rowdy, police got the numbers there to deal with it.
“The police have a patrol down at the beach area during the good weather. They do have a presence, but the officers there had to call on colleagues to come along and help.” Drinking on one of Scotland’s best-known beaches has been under the microscope since 2010 when restrictions were introduced following a bank holiday weekend of drunken mayhem.
A by-law banning antisocial consumption of alcohol on Portobello Beach was invoked by police in a bid to clamp down on booze-fuelled yobs.
Cllr Bridgman said youth drinking on the promenade remained an issue, but he stressed a blanket ban was not the answer.
The incidents come amid fears Portobello’s police station is in line to be shut.
Police Scotland have ordered a comprehensive re-examination of when police station public counters are open as the force searches for financial savings. Sergeant Tom Little said regular patrols into the area had not been increased on the back of the trouble.