Campaign launched to prevent Bonfire Night attacks on emergency workers

It comes after a reported rise in incidents last year where emergency workers were hit by fireworks.

Police Scotland campaign launched to prevent Bonfire Night attacks on emergency workers STV News

A campaign is being launched in a bid to stop emergency service personnel being attacked when on duty.

It aims at preventing attacks on police, firefighters and ambulance workers responding to incidents around Bonfire Night.

It comes after a reported rise in incidents last year where emergency workers were hit by fireworks and other projectiles.

In Edinburgh, two police officers had to be treated in hospital for head injuries after youths threw bricks at their vehicle.

In another incident in the capital last year, up to 100 youths threw fireworks at members of the public.

Independent charity Crimestoppers is leading the new campaign with the support of the Scottish Government’s Building Safer Communities team.

The charity hopes to encourage the public to report any planned attacks and help gather information after Bonfire Night about who may have been behind any incidents.

Angela Parker, national manager of Crimestoppers in Scotland, said: “Our charity believes everyone has the right to feel safe, no more so than Scotland’s emergency services who risk their lives to keep us safe.

“Bonfire Night should be safe and fun for everyone, but unfortunately, last year we saw serious attacks on crews.

“That’s why we are asking anyone with information on those planning attacks to get in touch with our charity 100% anonymously.

“No-one will ever know you contacted us, and your information could be preventing serious injury or harm or even loss of life for emergency workers.”

Community safety minister Siobhian Brown said: “With Bonfire Night approaching, it is paramount that our emergency service workers can go about their duties safe from harm.

“Any attack on fire, ambulance and police crews is utterly despicable.

“As a real deterrent to such vile behaviour, the Scottish Government’s Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Act ensures that courts are required to take into consideration the use of fireworks or pyrotechnics as a possible aggravating factor in any attack on 999 crews.

“Fireworks can cause serious, life-changing injuries or even prove lethal. If someone does plan on using fireworks, I urge them to please do so responsibly and safely and to be mindful of their neighbours.”

Police Scotland assistant chief constable Tim Mairs said: “In certain parts of Scotland last year, including the Niddrie area of Edinburgh, we witnessed considerable levels of disorder and public damage caused by a minority of individuals that resulted in significant distress for local communities.

“On some of these occasions, police officers and other emergency service workers were targeted for attack with fireworks and other projectiles, resulting in injuries to our personnel.

“Such behaviour is wholly unacceptable, and while many of the physical signs of these attacks may have healed with time, only those affected will know what the psychological toll has been.

“We are once again launching Operation Moonbeam and will support divisional resources with public order officers, who can help in responding to criminality involving fireworks and protect the emergency services deployed throughout Bonfire Night.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Chief Officer Andy Watt said: “Attacks on emergency services are completely unacceptable and are carried out by a small minority.

“It’s one of the busiest nights of the year for our staff who are working hard to keep communities safe, and they should be able to carry out their role without being hurt or having appliances and equipment damaged by anti-social behaviour.

“We want to bring any emergency to a safe and swift conclusion, so please respect our staff and all emergency services.”

Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive Michael Dickson said: “Those on the front line should never have to fear for their safety.

“Despite our best efforts we still have ambulance crews experiencing physical assault and verbal abuse from the public often fuelled by excessive drinking.

“We understand the fireworks season is a chance for people to enjoy themselves but we ask them to act responsibly.”

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