Edinburgh Niddrie riots: Residents describe 'war zone' scenes which left them fearing for their lives

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Council workers have since cleaned up the aftermath from last night’s disturbance - but amongst the scorched tarmac and broken slabs are scars felt by the local community

Residents in Niddrie have said they feared for their lives and those of emergency workers after they compared scenes during the Bonfire Night riots to ‘a war zone’.

Police were called to Hay Avenue at around 4.40pm on November 5 following reports of 50 teenagers launching fireworks at vehicles and buildings. Residents witnessed a large police presence who used riot gear in an attempt to take control of the situation. After descending on the surrounding streets, the ‘violent’ behaviour continued into the night with the chaos leaving four police officers injured and the force ‘extremely concerned.’

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Scorches on pavements and grassy areas remain at the scenes in Niddrie Mains Drive, Hay Avenue and Niddrie Mains Road, but council workers have cleaned up debris following the riots.

One resident criticised the amount of people watching and filming the events unfold. They said: "For everyone who was standing there, enjoying it and filming it I think ‘what’s going in through your heads?’ - you’re egging them on - don’t give them an audience.” Picture: @chewypooieOne resident criticised the amount of people watching and filming the events unfold. They said: "For everyone who was standing there, enjoying it and filming it I think ‘what’s going in through your heads?’ - you’re egging them on - don’t give them an audience.” Picture: @chewypooie
One resident criticised the amount of people watching and filming the events unfold. They said: "For everyone who was standing there, enjoying it and filming it I think ‘what’s going in through your heads?’ - you’re egging them on - don’t give them an audience.” Picture: @chewypooie

One resident, who was leaving her mum’s house on Niddrie Mains Drive at around 7.30pm, said: “It was chaotic, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life - it was like a war zone. We thought last year was bad but this year topped it by ten. It was ridiculous, the kids are just wild nowadays. One policeman actually caught fire after a guy fired a rocket him and it caught his uniform. Three other officers either side of him had to pat him down to try and get the fire out. You could hear them shouting and panicking.

“My mum was absolutely petrified. She went out to the garden and the police were shouting to get back in. They were shooting fireworks from every angle, they were coming from everywhere.”

The resident said police blocked off every side street along Niddrie Mains Road and local newsagent, Hay Convenience Store, was forced to barricade its premises. They said: “When the police turned up with shields, that’s when the group started coming towards the police with the fireworks. They attacked the whole area including the shop.”

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The resident said they don’t want to see a blanket ban on Bonfire Night but feel something has to change to ensure safety. They said: “All these teenagers that are causing trouble and hurting people are ruining it for everyone else. There’s kids and families around here, I don’t think they realise the consequences of this. I couldn’t even take my kids out last night because I was scared for my life. For everyone who was standing there, enjoying it and filming it I think ‘what’s going in through your heads? You’re egging them on - don’t give them an audience’.”

Hay Avenue and surrounding streets in Niddrie looked like a 'war zone' according to locals. Council workers have since cleaned up the mess left in the aftermath of the antisocial behaviourHay Avenue and surrounding streets in Niddrie looked like a 'war zone' according to locals. Council workers have since cleaned up the mess left in the aftermath of the antisocial behaviour
Hay Avenue and surrounding streets in Niddrie looked like a 'war zone' according to locals. Council workers have since cleaned up the mess left in the aftermath of the antisocial behaviour

One pensioner said: “It still frightens me just talking about it. I’ve lived here for 56 years and I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve got elderly family down the road and the police wouldn’t let me out to give them medication which was quite concerning. It was like a war zone. I take my hat off to all those police because it was sad to watch and really scary for the pensioners and people with wee animals. It’s disgusting.”

Another local described the events as being like ‘World War Three’ where youths were ‘firing rockets and petrol bombs at the police’. But the resident’s feeling of disgust was not just aimed at the youth gangs at the heart of the disorder.

They said: “There was mums standing with their bairns going ‘oh look, a policeman got hit in the head’ and they were laughing, we’re talking about bairns that are five or six years old. Loads of them were standing there. Some of the rockets were exploding above their heads and they were too busy enjoying themselves to care. I think it’s disgusting.

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“I think most people living here are gutted because it’s not a bad area, it’s just got a bad reputation, especially during Bonfire Night. It’s just a total nightmare. It seemed the more police that came the more teenagers came. They weren’t scared at all they were just firing petrol bombs and fireworks at them. I’m just glad it’s over because my dog was freaking out. When a fully grown Rottweiler starts cowering in the corner - you know somethings wrong.”

A roundabout on Hay Avenue has been left scorched after gangs of youths set off fireworks and petrol bombsA roundabout on Hay Avenue has been left scorched after gangs of youths set off fireworks and petrol bombs
A roundabout on Hay Avenue has been left scorched after gangs of youths set off fireworks and petrol bombs

Police Scotland are now appealing for information after the ‘unprecedented levels of violence’ in Niddrie last night. Police ask anyone with any information that can assist officers to contact Police Scotland via 101 or make a call to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.