Leeds police warn they will clamp down on violence and anti social behaviour this Halloween and Bonfire Night

Police in Leeds have issued a stark warning ahead of Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 7:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 7:08 am

Officers have pledged to clamp down on violence and anti-social behaviour during what is one of the "busiest times of the year" for emergency services in the city.

The warning comes after a night of violence in Harehills in 2019, which saw lawless crowds throw fireworks and bricks at emergency services on Bonfire Night.

Thirteen people have now been convicted following the incident, with five people receiving prison sentences of up to 36 months.

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The charred remains of a bonfire in Banstead Park after the disorder in Harehills in November 2019 (Photo: Dan Rowlands/SWNS)

Police have warned they will do all they can to identify, arrest and convict anyone who engages in such violence this year.

Extra officers will be on patrol in Leeds over the Halloween and Bonfire period and police will be working closely with blue light partners to follow up an incidents involving emergency services.

Chief Superintendent Jo Morgan of Leeds District Police said: “Halloween and Bonfire night are a fun time for young people and families but, we want to make it crystal clear that those who think it is an excuse for consequence free disorder are in for a very unpleasant surprise.

“Our officers have a significant range of tools at their disposal to allow us to investigate incidents of criminality.

Members of the public, such as volunteers from the Leeds Street Team (pictured), were praised for their bravery in stepping in to stop the violence in 2019

"Our investigation into the disorder in Harehills demonstrates how effective CCTV and body cam footage has become at allowing us to identify those who engage in such behaviour.

“Officers spent many hours piecing together footage from a variety of sources to identify the guilty parties with a number of cases put before the courts.

“Frankly we are now in a place where there is no hiding place for those who think they can get away with such behaviour.”

People in Harehills were praised for their "resilience and bravery" for stepping in to stop violent yobs during the Bonfire Night disorder of 2019 - despite putting themselves at risk in doing so.

Residents came under attack and footage shows fireworks being launched at riot police, who were attempting to disperse the group of youths from Harehills Road.

Chief Supt Morgan added: “Incidents such as those in Harehills are completely unacceptable and will always attract a comprehensive response from the police, both on the night and going forward in our investigation to identify and bring to justice those responsible.

“We hope people enjoy themselves responsibly but those who have other ideas should be well aware that the consequences for criminal behaviour could be with them for many years.”

Leeds City Council executive member Debra Coupar, responsible for the Safer Leeds partnership programme, added that anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated.

All council-organised displays and bonfires have been cancelled this year due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, and Coun Coupar urged residents to take extra care when hosting their own displays.

She said: "Halloween and Bonfire Night are fun annual events for everyone to enjoy, but they also carry with them a responsibility for people to look after each other by behaving responsibly to ensure everyone has fun safely.

"Especially where fireworks are concerned, that fun can be ruined in an instant due to dangerous, thoughtless and reckless actions which can have devastating consequences. We will not tolerate such anti-social behaviour in our communities and legal action will be taken against those identified acting in such a way.

"So we ask for people to use common sense, think of the impact of their actions on other people and the importance of safety for all."

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