*This article was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News newspaper on the 30th of October 2018*
This coming week will see many people across the city out guising and revelling as we approach Halloween and the Bonfire weekend. Most of those out will be enjoying some harmless fun, dressed up as ghosts and ghouls or attending one of the organised firework displays across the city.
Sadly, we know from last that many residents in the North East and North West of Edinburgh will be concerned about another rise in anti-social behaviour and the vandalism that swept through the streets with cars and property being damaged or destroyed. Our emergency service staff were all on the front line to respond to this wanton behaviour and even faced attacks themselves whilst responding to incidents.
This year local Police have taken steps to implement four dispersal zones, which cover the areas affected by anti-social behaviour previously. The dispersal zones will operate between 2pm and midnight between Wednesday 31st October to Tuesday 6th November and mean means that Police can instruct any people in groups of two or more who are congregating and behaving in an anti-social manner to leave the zones if they do not live there and not return for up to 24 hours. If they do return, they will be arrested.
The number of calls the Police received over the same period last year rose considerably and a greater level of violence and damage was reported in previous years. My office was inundated with calls from local residents in the affected communities asking for action to be taken and that’s why I support Police in this decision to protect local residents from disruption, alarm and distress.
Hopefully this year everyone can have a fun and safe Halloween and Guy Fawkes night.