Poster campaign aims to discourage guisers’ Hallowe’en pranks

YOU might think it’s a harmless Hallowe’en tradition, but children will find guising a bit harder in some parts of the Lothians this year.

Police have launched a new initiative by issuing posters to residents who don’t want to hand out “treats” – and aren’t too keen on the “tricks” either.

The signs, which read “Sorry, no guisers. Thank you, have a lovely evening”, are being put up in Midlothian homes ahead of tonight in the first move of its kind in the force area.

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Police said the posters were designed to protect residents, particularly the elderly, from distressing pranks.

Acting Inspector Scott Meechan said the posters had been designed after consultation with worried members of the community, not in response to any particular incidents in previous years.

He said: “We would encourage parents to speak to their children to ensure anyone going trick or treating acts sensibly and does not cause upset to other members of the community, especially the elderly and vulnerable.

“Tricks or pranks may seem like harmless fun to some people, but can cause distress to others. Behaviour such as throwing eggs or flour can also quickly cross the line from being antisocial into causing criminal damage.”

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Acting Insp Meechan called on guisers to heed the message on the posters.

He added: “When you are out on Hallowe’en, you may see some of these posters displayed in house windows.

“All we would ask is that you respect the choice of the householder and, if they have displayed a poster saying they would prefer not to have guisers, you move on. That way, everyone can enjoy their evening.”

Midlothian provost Adam Montgomery said he sympathised with residents who may face demands from modern youngsters for “cash rather than sweets or fruit”.

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And he played down fears that residents putting up the posters could make themselves a target for pranksters. He said: “I’ve not heard anything about problems with guisers at Hallowe’en. To be honest, I think guising is dying a death compared to what it used to be when I was a boy.

“Kids nowadays would not want sweets or fruit like we used to get, they would want cash. I suppose there could be an issue if someone is generous and gives out 50p or a £1. They could end up with queues at their door.”

Deputy provost Margot Russell hoped that people would still enter into the spirit of guising tonight, but believes the posters were better than “spending the night with the lights off” to guard against unwanted callers. In Scotland, children are only supposed to receive treats if they perform for the households they go to, usually with a song, poem or a joke, rather than the more American custom of “trick or treat”.

Councillor Jim Muirhead, the council’s community safety leader, said: “We support Lothian and Borders Police in their campaign encouraging guisers to act sensibly if they are out trick or treating.

“These posters are a useful way for householders to let people know if guisers are welcome or if they would prefer not to be involved.”