Dispersal zones will see police break-up groups on Bonfire Night

Anyone from outside nine areas of Edinburgh behaving antisocially can be commanded to leave and not return for up to 24 hours.

Dispersal zones will see police break-up groups on Bonfire Night iStock

Police will be able to command people in groups of two or more to leave areas of the city under threat of arrest if they return to combat disorder over the Bonfire period.

Nine “dispersal zones” will operate in Edinburgh from Thursday and over the weekend allowing officers to break-up those congregating and behaving in an “antisocial manner”.

The areas cover Muirhouse, Portobello, Loganlea, Pilton, Saughton, Gorgie, Moredun, Gilmerton and Southhouse and will be in effect between 2pm and midnight until Saturday.

Those told to disperse must leave the area if they do not live there and then not return for up to 24 hours or face being arrested.

 Police will be able to command people in groups of two or more to leave areas.iStock

Chief inspector Murray Tait said Police Scotland is asking parents and guardians to have “open and frank conversations” with young people about how they could impact their own or another’s life with fireworks.

The zones have been established under the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004, giving police the Power of Dispersal within the designated areas authorised by superintendent David Robertson.

In 2018, Police Scotland launched Operation Moonbeam, its annual response to violence and anti-social behaviour around Bonfire Night.

Senior officers have said the operation has reduced criminal activity since 2017, when there was significant violence and disorder.

Many public fireworks displays have been cancelled this year, like in 2020.

Although Highland Council’s light show in Inverness will happen in a “secure location” with spectators told not to gather to watch it – causing a row.

There are also concerns about assaults on firefighters in the lead up to November 5.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said there were 12 attacks on crews on Bonfire Night 2020, and warned that such incidents can divert police away from other emergencies.

SFRS issued a plea for the public to reconsider if they are planning to hold a firework display or to behave sensibly if they do, warning of devastating injuries and the distress pyrotechnics can cause.

In October, two 14-year-old boys were charged after a firework hit a pram with a baby inside in Glasgow.

A teenager who was permanently scarred in a freak firework accident and still undergoing surgery ten years on, has urged people to reconsider hosting home displays.

Chief inspector Murray Tait said: “Over the past few months we have been analysing the previous demand on the division and identifying the continued areas that are hot spots for firework-related disorder and criminality.

“We have used this data to develop our resource plan for Operation Crackle 2021 – our local response to bonfire night.

“In addition, local policing teams have been working alongside colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to engage with young people at schools and highlight the dangers of behaving recklessly with fireworks.

“We know that the emergency services alone cannot prevent young people engaging in such activities and I am asking parents and guardians to consider having open and frank conversations with young people about how their lives can be severely impacted if they are injured, or injure another while messing around with fireworks.

“Since 2017, all commanders across the country can call upon specialist and national capabilities as part of Operation Moonbeam. So, the public should be left in no doubt that we have all the tools at our disposal to respond appropriately to any incidents that arise in local areas.

“These officers will be out and about in Edinburgh and can be deployed immediately to any area requiring additional support and we will not hesitate to utilise them, if necessary.”

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