Making sure Guy Fawkes celebrations are as safe as they are enjoyable

Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, Chair of the Community Safety Partnership, writes in the Edinburgh Evening News about protecting the public around Bonfire Night.

In recent years we’ve seen an escalation in anti-social behaviour in the time leading up to Halloween and Bonfire/ Guy Fawkes Night. Protecting our communities from harm during Bonfire Night and beyond, is a priority for us in the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership. 

We’ve seen instances of inappropriate use of fireworks, setting of fires in a dangerous manner and fly tipping which has contributed to availability of flammable items as well as worrying levels of antisocial behaviour.

This kind of activity places huge strain on the Council and of course our partners Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service through their attendance to incidents, monitoring, removal of items from known locations and the clean-up exercise in the aftermath of such events. We are also concerned about the safety risks posed to our staff and other professionals who are faced with this potentially dangerous behaviour.

Following the very disappointing events in 2017 and the damage caused across the city, a dedicated and citywide Bonfire Community Improvement Partnership was established where we worked with representatives from Police, Fire Service and Council Trading Standards, Environmental Wardens, Transport and Community Justice teams to take a collaborative approach to reduce the levels of vandalism, antisocial behaviour and violence. We saw a reduction in anti-social behaviour and criminal activity last year, so we want to repeat our approach. 

Last year we explored ways of engaging young people during the bonfire firework period and raising awareness of the hazards of combining antisocial behaviour and fireworks/bonfires. This year we have built on this by working with Scottish Fire Rescue Service and Police Scotland to engage with young people through schools, the Risk Factory and in activities within our communities

Whilst there is again increased emphasis from all partners on preventing the type of criminal behaviour we see around the 5 November – we also want to promote how people take part in the festivities legally and safely. We’re not trying to ruin anyone’s fun, we just want to make sure everyone can enjoy the festivities safely. 

We’re running a social media campaign to promote safe use of fireworks and advice around hosting bonfires – including how to register bonfire displays properly. 

A number of Bonfire Amnesty’s are taking place across the city where you can dispose of any bulky items free of charge. Fly tipping during the Bonfire and

Fireworks season can be a major cause of fire - if you see fly tipping or notice an area where there is a build-up of refuse or combustible material, please let the council know. 

We will continue to work with our partners on our approach to prevent anti-social behaviour in the lead up to Halloween and Bonfire Night to ensure that Edinburgh remains a safe place for its residents.

Work is also ongoing with the Scottish Government, following the Scottish wide consultation on Fireworks and residents’ views on the use of them across Scotland.  

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