As we are only a day away from Hallowe’en, and less than a week away from Bonfire Night, the focal point of this month’s column will be no surprise.
In anticipation of these two events, we have again launched Operation Crackle, and the first phase of this has been undertaken, with School Link Officers joining colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to provide inputs to various High Schools across the country.
The theme of these inputs is, unsurprisingly, the risks associated with the reckless use of fireworks, as well as lighting unsanctioned bonfires. Every year, the A&E at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh will be visited by those who have had an accident with a firework or bonfire and it is important that parents and guardians are having very serious conversations with young people in their care about the life-altering, and even life-threatening impact that can be caused if you do not take appropriate care.
What is also of equal importance is for the public to be aware that firework-related criminality will not be tolerated. I will not dwell on previous years, where we saw unprecedented levels of disorder, damage and agrression towards ourselves and emergency service colleagues. However, what I will reaffirm is that in the wake of several high-profile incidents in 2017, we have made alterations to our policing plans for Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night. While my officers will provide a visible frontline presence in various parts of the city over the coming weeks, they will be supported by specialist resources as part of Operation Moonbeam, which returns, having been initiated last year.
Operation Moonbeam will allow Commanders to deploy Public Order Officers into areas, where it is believed conventional officers and other emergency service personnel cannot safely conduct their business. Please rest assured, however, that these resources will only be utilised if necessity dictates and if there is no requirement for them, then the public will not see any visible change to the style of policing on our streets.
My message for Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night is simple. Please enjoy both responsibly and safely and do not conduct yourself in a manner, which places you, or others at risk of harm. If you are found to be involved in firework-related offences, you can expect to be arrested and processed through the criminal justice system.
Before we know it, October 31 and November 5 will be distant memories and we’ll be fast approaching December and the festive period.
In fact, only 12 days after Bonfire Night, Edinburgh’s Christmas officially launches in the Capital and with it, we will launch Operation Winter City 2019. This will see us increase our visibility within the city centre all the way through into January so as to keep the public safe over the Christmas and New Year period.
While the vast majority of us will be eagerly looking forward to enjoying the festive atmosphere with our family, friends and co-workers, there are sadly those in Edinburgh who will look to take advantage of the increased footfall to commit a range of crimes.
Typically, we tend to see a rise in crimes such as shoplifting, pick-pocketing, robbery and theft in the city centre over the holiday season and this is what Operation Winter City will look to deter.
In addition, we also aim to prevent alcohol-related disorder and violence taking place within the footprint of our night-time economy. Please know your limitations and drink responsibly, ensuring you do not end up in a vulnerable state, or come to the attention of police and other emergency services due to over-consumption.
Chief Superintendent Sean Scott is the Area Commander for Edinburgh