Peer pressure blamed for Edinburgh Bonfire Night violence

Youths made their own fireworks and were pressurised into anti-social behaviour during the Capital's Bonfire Night carnage, it has emerged.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:03 pm
This burned-out car was stolen to November 5, then driven into the bonfire

Edinburgh was described as looking like a “war zone” on November 5 as firefighters and police officers were attacked in the Muirhouse and Craigentinny areas.

Around 75 officials and residents attended a public meeting, organised by Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham, at Craigentinny Community Centre to discuss the events and ways to prevent a repeat of a shocking night of violence.

One youngster, aged about 12, told the meeting that under-18s were making their own fireworks, and added many youths were pressured into taking part in anti-social behaviour.

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Residents and politicians are demanding a ban on the sale of fireworks following the mayhem, with some claiming to see rockets used as weapons.

Ms Denham said: “There were a number of ideas put forward, including increasing penalties for the type of anti-social behaviour that took place, banning bonfires altogether, increasing CCTV, and arranging some sort of community-led Bonfire Night event for youths to take part in.

“The majority of attendees were also of the opinion that the fireworks should be banned except for public displays.

“I agree with this stance, and will continue to press the UK government to devolve all fireworks laws to Scotland so the Scottish Parliament can legislate appropriately.”

Concerns were also raised regarding the public’s access to fireworks through businesses’ ability to sell and adults buying them for children.

John McLellan, Conservative councillor for Craigentinny, said: “The public were upset about the police’s non-confrontational approach and they expect them not to let violence take its course. There was a proposal of only having community bonfires too, as there’s no longer a guarantee events will not spiral out of control.”

An investigation into the violence, which saw 50 youths burning vehicles and setting fireworks off at members of the public and emergency services, is ongoing. The police are currently going through 40 hours of CCTV footage to try to identify the perpetrators.

Four people, aged between 14 and 17, have already been charged with offences in relation the incidents around Craigentinny.

Ms Denham added: “It is important that these matters be tackled as a community. Many people were rightfully concerned and upset, so I am thankful that emergency services and council officials were able to explain what has and will be done to address antisocial behaviour.”