Specialist police officers deployed to tackle the antisocial use of fireworks in Edinburgh have been targeted by a large group of youths throwing petrol bombs.
They were sent to support local officers on Hay Avenue in the Niddrie area of the city as part of Operation Moonbeam – launched by Police Scotland in a bid to keep communities safe on Bonfire Night.
Around 100 young people have been involved in clashes with riot police, which has seen fireworks being thrown directly at officers.
Amateur video footage posted on social media showed officers with riot shields running in the Hay Avenue area as fireworks are being launched.
The footage also shows bystanders watching as officers are bombarded with explosives and smoke, while teenagers gather on a green – with some filming it.
Police Scotland confirmed officers had been subjected to attacks from petrol bombs.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Specialist Public Order resources, deployed as part of Operation Moonbeam, are currently supporting local officers in the Hay Avenue area of Edinburgh, following reports of a large group of youths involved in the antisocial use of fireworks within the area.
“The police response is ongoing at present to keep the public and emergency service workers safe and local road closures are currently in place.
“The public are thanked for their support at this time.”
Police were called to Hay Avenue at 4.40pm, and buses were cancelled with road closures implemented.
Lothian Buses said it has diverted services “due to anti-social behaviour buses in the area”.
Buses are currently unable to serve Niddrie Mains Road and Peffermill Road, and are instead being diverted via Old Dalkeith Road, Little France Drive, Milligan Drive & The Wisp in both directions until further notice.
Cammy Day, the leader of Edinburgh City Council, said: “I’m appalled to see the scenes in Niddrie this evening. We’ve been clear that this sort of conduct is unacceptable.
“We’ve been working hard throughout the year with our partners and in our communities to mitigate Bonfire Night related disruption, so it is extremely disappointing to see a minority of people behaving in this way.
“This reckless behaviour endangers lives and like the majority of people in the community, I share in their dismay and upset at this disgraceful behaviour.”
In October last year, new legislation was introduced under the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act This legislation makes the proxy purchasing of fireworks for anyone under the age of 18 a criminal offence.
Those in breach of this legislation will be subject to a fine of £5,000, a six-month prison term, or both.
From this year, additional legislation under the Act has been introduced, which prohibits the carriage or use of a pyrotechnic article within a public place and allows officers to conduct stop and search activity on anyone they believe may be in possession of such items.
Operation Moonbeam 2023 was launched earlier this year, alongside Crimestoppers, who launched their own campaign encouraging the public to report any intelligence they have on potential emergency service attacks, and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Assistant chief constable Tim Mairs, gold commander for Operation Moonbeam, said: “The overwhelming majority of the public wish to enjoy Bonfire Night safely and responsibly, but it is a small minority who intentionally use the festivities to cause fear and alarm within our communities and commit acts of damage and violence.
“I want to make it abundantly clear that such reckless behaviour, including targeting my officers and other emergency service personnel will not be tolerated and we will use all the powers at our disposal to bring offenders to justice.
“Last year saw an escalation in incidents in specific parts of the country and we are increasing the level of public order resource available to communities this year to deter and respond to any offences.
“The new powers we have in relation to proxy purchasing and stop and search capabilities for anyone suspected to be in possession of pyrotechnics in a public place are yet another tool at our disposal to address fireworks-related crime.
“We want Bonfire Night to be a safe and enjoyable experience for anyone who choses to participate in it and a peaceful occasion for those who don’t. Please help us achieve this by ensuring your behaviour does not put yourself or others at risk.”
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