Operation Fawkes launches with safety message

The Aberdeen Community Safety Partnership is once again preparing to keep residents safe on bonfire night.

Community safety agencies are working together to prevent antisocial behaviour and wilful fire-raising on and around bonfire night in a joint operation known as Operation Fawkes.

The intelligence led operation will target areas which have traditionally experienced antisocial issues, in an effort to continue the positive reductions achieved in recent years. 

Last year’s operation contributed to a decline in antisocial behaviour and criminal activity during the bonfire period. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called out to just 10 incidents, 23 less than 2015. There was also a 72% reduction in fire calls and 55% reduction in firework calls to Police Scotland's control room in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing, who is chair of Aberdeen Community Planning Partnership, said: “The results from last year’s Operation Fawkes prove we can achieve real results when we work together. Working with other agencies allows us to keep residents safe from harm while making the best use of our resources and knowledge.

“The Community Safety Partnership is committed to keeping our communities safe and we hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable night. One of the ways they can do this is by attending Aberdeen City Council’s Fireworks Spectacular at Aberdeen Beach and to consider others around them.”

A number of preventative actions are planned for the week leading up to 5 November including school visits to raise awareness about the dangers of fireworks and the challenges emergency services encounter on the night.

Aberdeen City Council’s waste and recycling team will be out collecting large items that have been left outside properties including flats, schools and community centres. The team will also uplift items from multi-storey bin rooms across the city. City businesses are also being encouraged to remove waste from outside their properties in a bid to reduce the risk of willful fire-raising.

The Council’s Trading Standards team will visit 21 retailers in the city that are licensed to sell fireworks to ensure that they conform to safety regulations and are stored correctly. In addition, retailers are being reminded that it is an offence to supply fireworks, either for payment or given freely, to anyone under the age of 18.

Sergeant Andy Duncan, stationed at Police Scotland’s Tillydrone Police Office, said: "Operation Fawkes provides more deployable resources, working with the Community Safety Partnership to keep people safe around this year's Bonfire Night celebrations. School Liaison Police Officers along with Police and partners CCTV will also be utilised to identify and prosecute offenders where necessary".

"Organised firework displays provide the recommended, safest way to view and enjoy fireworks; the impromptu setting and use of fireworks in public areas can be dangerous to those using the fireworks, the wider community, children and pets. Legislation exists to protect the public in relation to misuse of fireworks and fire setting and will be enforced robustly. I would urge anyone to report those involved in antisocial behaviour, particularly around bonfire night."

Scottish Fire & Rescue Service Group Manager Gordon Riddel said: “Unauthorised bonfires needlessly take up our crews’ time and put others with genuine emergencies at risk.

“Organised events such as the fireworks display hosted by Aberdeen City Council at Queen’s Links, will be far more spectacular than putting on your own display and crucially safer for you, your family and friends. We want everyone to be able to celebrate the 5th November safely and in a way that doesn’t require the intervention of the emergency services”.

“I would urge any member of the public who sees someone starting an unauthorised bonfire to contact Crimestoppers. Together we can help each other stay safe this bonfire night”.

Denis Law Street Sport has increased the number of free sports and creative activity sessions that it delivers in local communities. The aim is to engage young people with sports to reduce boredom and the temptation of antisocial activity.

Mark Williams, Chief Operating officer of the Denis Law Legacy Trust, said "Each year our volunteers and staff look forward to supporting our partners and helping to provide free diversionary activity for the communities of Aberdeen that need it the most. We will as ever be increasing our deployments during this time and look forward to engaging with young people in a fun, safe and positive manner."