Police get '˜special help' for Bonfire Night trouble in Edinburgh

Police will have access to 'specialist national resources' to ensure officers can tackle any trouble on Bonfire Night following last year's disorder across the Capital.

Thursday, 6th September 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 6th September 2018, 8:10 am

Local officers will hold their first meeting with firefighters and council officials today (6) to hatch a plan to combat any anti-social behaviour at this year’s celebrations.

Police Scotland are set to launch Operation Moonbeam  during the week of Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night in order to hand local teams more equipment to deal with trouble.

The councillor responsible for community safety has also suggested that known troublemakers could be removed from problem-areas on Bonfire Night to reduce the risk of problems flaring up.

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Police have been given extra resources to deal with incidents on Bonfire Night. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Police have been given extra resources to deal with incidents on Bonfire Night. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

On Bonfire Night 2017, emergency services tallied up more than 250 calls over “dangerous use of fireworks and antisocial behaviour”. Fireworks were hurled by youths, causing an injury to a police sergeant.

Addressing the city council’s North East Locality Committee, Inspector Andrew Johnson said preparations were coming together for this year’s events.

He said: “Operation Moonbeam is a national operation that’s put in place in response to what happened last year with the unacceptable and unprecedented disorder that we experienced.

“Each local area will be provided with the ability to access specialist police resources that are going to be deployed on the night. There will be a central command structure so that if we do experience the disorder we experienced last year, there will be an ability for us to call on those resources and try and use them locally.

“On the night, the silver commander will be tactically in charge of the response across Edinburgh.”

School pupils will be given a talking to by police ahead of Bonfire Night and officers are working with Holyrood Park rangers to develop “specific arrangements” for Arthur’s Seat.

Inspector Johnson added: “There will be visits to the small number of premises that are licensed to sell fireworks. We will also be visiting local shops who are not licensed to sell them to make sure they are aware that we will be keeping our ear to the ground if they do try and sell them.

“Anybody who was involved in any of the disorder or was stopped last year or had  their names taken by officers will be getting visited prior to Bonfire Night to reinforce the message that what happened last year is unacceptable and we won’t be tolerating it.

“Last year we recovered about £15,000 of fireworks from somebody’s home address who was selling them illegally. That still didn’t stop the disorder and the fireworks young people had.”

The city council is also developing plans to assist police and minimise anti-social behaviour this November.

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, head of the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, said there would be a “carrot and stick approach” to managing this year’s events.

She added: “Apparently some areas have had success by engaging with a certain small number of young people who are known to often lead this and taking them away to do alternative activities elsewhere.

Specially-trained and equipped officers will be available to commanders, as well as a large number of officers on duty during the celebrations.

Edinburgh Superintendent Bob Paris said: “As well as intervention and diversionary activities in the lead up to Bonfire night, a substantial police presence will be deployed in each of the four localities supported by national assets.

“What we want to make clear to our communities is that the level of disorder witnessed last year cannot and will not be tolerated.”

He added: “Members of the public saw their vehicles and other items of property destroyed and emergency service personnel were the victims of attacks that put their safety and well-being at serious risk.

“To prevent similar incidents arising this year, a range of specialist police resources have been earmarked to provide additional capabilities to local policing teams in Edinburgh.

“Police Scotland is committed to protecting the public, as well as our own staff, and the benefit of a single force is the ability to call upon specialist resources and officers to support local policing.”