Police petrol-bombed in 'disgusting' Bonfire Night violence

Eight police officers sustained minor injuries in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Key Points
  • Four people, including police officer, taken to hospital after disorder in Glasgow.
  • Emergency services respond to ‘unprecedented levels of violence’ in Edinburgh’s Niddrie.
  • Firefighters targeted with bricks and fireworks in nine attacks over eight-hour period.
  • Police believe adults ‘equipped’ children with pyrotechnics and encouraged them to attack officers.

Fire crews were attacked and eight police officers injured in Bonfire Night disorder which saw petrol bombs and fireworks thrown at riot police.

Around 50 young people clashed with officers in what has been described as “unprecedented levels of violence” in Edinburgh.

Four people, including a police officer, were taken to hospital in Glasgow following a “mass brawl” in the Barmulloch area.

Meanwhile, firefighters were bombarded with fireworks and bricks in nine attacks during an eight-hour period on Bonfire Night.

Around 100 youths gathered on Hay Avenue in Niddrie, Edinburgh, just before 5pm on Sunday in a repeat of disorder seen last year in the neighbourhood.

Drone footage showed people aiming fireworks and petrol bombs at riot police in Edinburgh.

Police said around 50 of them were responsible for directing fireworks, petrol bombs and other projectiles at buildings, vehicles and police.


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Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said while the majority of Scotland enjoyed Bonfire Night, “Police Scotland officers were subjected to unprecedented levels of violence.

“A minority of individuals have been responsible for an unacceptable and frankly, disgusting level of disorder that left communities alarmed and police officers injured.

“The violent nature of the situation witnessed in the Niddrie area of Edinburgh is extremely concerning, not least because it is believed young people were being actively encouraged and co-ordinated by adults to target officers while they carried out their duties.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf called the scenes “disgraceful”.

Drone footage showed a line of police officers with riot shields standing in front of vans with blue lights flashing.

A mob of black-clad youths gathered on grass in front of them and began throwing pyrotechnics.

The police made a retreat as a petrol bomb hit the ground in front of them and fireworks exploded.

The assault continued, with petrol bombs and fireworks forcing police to shuffle backwards.

Police Scotland officers standing in a line in the Niddrie area of Edinburgh where around 100 young people clashed with riot police.Handout

The officers then ran at the assailants, in footage filmed from a nearby sports centre.

Police Scotland said there were a small number of arrests made with further arrests anticipated to follow in the coming days as investigations continue.

In Glasgow, dozens of officers responded to an incident involving 20 youngsters fighting and firing fireworks at each other in an attempt to calm the situation, however one was hurt during the operation.

Riot police in Niddrie in Edinburgh.Duncan McGlynn

In Dundee, two police vehicles were struck by bricks, while in Glasgow two groups of youths were fighting and directing fireworks towards each other.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crews were also attacked with fireworks and bricks thrown at them.

Nine attacks were reported during an eight-hour period in which firefighters were deployed to tackle outdoors blazes.

The attacks happened in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Blantyre in South Lanarkshire and Blackburn in West Lothian.

There were no injuries reported to the crews involved however a fire appliance in West Lothian had a windscreen smashed by a brick.

A brick smashed the window of a fire service appliance.SFRS

SFRS received more than 892 calls from the public and Operations Control mobilised firefighters to approximately 355 bonfires across the country between 3.30pm and midnight on Sunday.

Last year in Niddrie, motorbike gangs terrorised the neighbourhood on Bonfire Night while fireworks were thrown on the ground.

In 2018, Police Scotland set up Operation Moonbeam to tackle Bonfire Night chaos, and on Tuesday, riot police attended Kirkton, Dundee, after children reportedly as young as ten set off fireworks.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay branded the youths in Edinburgh “thugs”, and council leader Cammy Day warned they would be prosecuted.

Day 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 throughout the year 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, I share in their dismay and upset at this disgraceful behaviour.”

Findlay said: “Such attacks on police officers are cowardly, reckless and dangerous. Police Scotland need sufficient resources to tackle these thugs.”

Children ‘exploited and encouraged to attack police’

Assistant chief constable Tim Mairs, gold commander for operation moonbeam, acknowledged young people were responsible for many of the attacks on emergency crews.

Assistant chief constable Tim Mairs said adults had 'equipped' young people with the fireworks.STV News

But he said they carried a “sinister” undercurrent of adults supplying youngsters with fireworks.

He said: “Whilst it was clear it was, in the main, young people attacking police, there have been adults in the area in vehicles who have been moving about and supplying them with fireworks, essentially exploiting them and encouraging them to attack police.

“That’s what makes this much more sinister as an act.”

ACC Mairs added: “We have to focus on the small number of individuals who exploited children last night, and equipped them, not just with fireworks, but with petrol bombs, with masonry and with other items.

“These are deeper issues and those are the things that we need to focus on right now.”

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