By Lucy Ashton
Police Scotland’s Public Order trained officers supported local policing colleagues in what proved to be a challenging Bonfire Night for emergency services.
In total, 483 calls were received relating to fireworks offences night. This is a reduction on the 581 incidents recorded the previous year and reflects the positive downward trend in crimes that have occurred over the past five years. Nevertheless, there were still a number of significant crimes arising over the course of the evening.
Twelve people were arrested, and a further 15 were dispersed from Dispersal Zones. Further inquiry to identify more suspects will be taking place over the coming days and weeks.
The majority of serious incidents took place within Edinburgh, where members of the public, firefighters and police officers were all targeted by youths in possession of fireworks.
During a call-out to an illegal bonfire at Langside Street, Clydebank, however, members of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were attacked by twenty youths using fireworks. Police Public Order Officers attended and the group dispersed. One police vehicle sustained very minor damage and one male was arrested for assault and culpable and reckless conduct.
Just before 7pm, approximately 100 youths threw fireworks at members of the public and vehicles at Marischal Road, Edinburgh. Public Order Officers attended to support local policing teams and were also targeted. A fire engine that was in attendance sustained a smashed window as a result of the disorder, though, thankfully, no one was injured.
While on patrol at around 7.35pm on Ferry Road Drive, Edinburgh, officers were attacked by a number of individuals throwing bricks at their vehicle. Public Order Officers were called to the scene to support and a Public Order vehicle was subsequently damaged when a brick was thrown at the windscreen.
Further incidents in the Drylaw area were reported between 9 and 10pm when the fire service were initially attacked with fireworks while attempting to extinguish a wheelie bin fire on Ferry Road Drive, and had to withdraw. Once again, Public Order resources were deployed to support but were subjected to threats and fireworks being thrown by a number of youths, who were also armed with scaffolding poles and a baseball bat.
Further incidents were then reported in the area, after youths began throwing fireworks at members of the public and at Drylaw Police Station. No injuries were reported and no damage was sustained to the building.
Around 8.40pm, a police vehicle was attacked with bricks in the Niddrie area resulting in a window being smashed and an officer sustaining a minor cut to their lip.
Around the same time within Sighthill, Edinburgh, local officers were within their vehicle when it was targeted by youths with bricks who smashed the vehicle’s windows. This resulted in both officers being injured. They were taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. One sustained a head injury that required stitches, while the other needed treatment for glass in their eye.
An hour later, within the Duddingston area of The Capital, a number of police vehicles had petrol bombs thrown at them by a number of youths. There were also incidents of roads being barricaded by the suspects, which required police to attend and deal with. There were no injuries reported during these incidents.
Around the same time in Glasgow, a male was outside the OVO Hydro, and threw a flare into a crowd of people. He was detained by security staff at the scene. Following police enquiries, two people were arrested in connection with this matter.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs, right, Gold Commander for Operation Moonbeam said: “Our initial analysis of the incidents arising on Bonfire Night show that, for the overwhelming majority of the country, people enjoyed the occasion safely and responsibly.
“However, in some areas, particularly Edinburgh, various individuals have shown blatant disregard for the safety of the public and the emergency services and have actively targeted police officers and firefighters during the course of their duties.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I want to make it abundantly clear that considerable follow-up inquiry will be conducted in relation to all of these incidents, utilising all resources at our disposal to identify those responsible and bring them to justice. Do not think that just because you evaded police on the night, that we won’t be knocking on your door in the near future.
“I would ask anyone who has information relating to the offences observed last night to contact police via 101 so we can investigate appropriately.
“What the events of last night demonstrate to me is the importance of having a robust frontline policing service that can be readily supported by national and specialist colleagues when required. Similarly, working in partnership with other emergency colleagues and local authorities is equally important to ensuring we are deploying the correct level of resource to the right areas at the right time.
“All of those who were on duty during Bonfire Night showed exceptional professionalism and dedication to protecting communities from harm during extremely difficult and challenging circumstances. I am grateful for all of their efforts.”