Youths who barricade Leeds roads and launch fireworks face arrest during Bonfire Night

Groups of masked youths who make Burley residents' lives a 'misery' by setting off fireworks face arrest over Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 12:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 2:19 pm

Police are seeking an injunction to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area after roads were barricaded and fireworks launched at people, homes, cars and emergency services.

In recent years, residents in The Kelsalls area of Burley said their lives have been made a 'misery' by large groups of 30 to 50 youths congregating in the streets with fireworks.

The cluster of streets, bordered by Alexandra Road and Burley Lodge Road and including Burley Lawn park, has been described as being “like a firework factory going up”.

Stock photo of bonfire night in Roundhay Park in 2017. Picture Bruce Rollinson

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Many residents felt distressed, intimidated and unable to go out after dark.

From September 2018 to December 2018, police received 151 calls from the area related to fireworks.

Officers were 'challenged' when identifying the youths and taking action due to many wearing masks or face coverings.

Leeds City Council is now applying to Leeds County Court for an injunction under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

It would create an exclusion zone covering the area in which people would be forbidden from:

- Being in possession of any firework or other explosive or pyrotechnic material in public.

- Disguising their identity with items such as masks for scarves

- Congregating in a group of three or more and engaging in behaviour that causes nuisance to residents.

- Behaving in a manner that is threatening or abusive to any other person engaged in lawful behaviour in public.

Police would be able to arrest anyone who flouted these restrictions.

Inspector Andy Loftus, who heads the Leeds North West Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The dangerous use of fireworks and other related anti-social behaviour is an issue that affects communities across Leeds at this time of year, but the situation that comes about in this particular area of Burley stands out as an absolute priority for us to tackle.

“For a sustained period of weeks and months, this concentration of residential streets linked by ginnels becomes the setting for a completely unacceptable level of behaviour that has a really negative impact of the quality of life of people living there.

“We have been working in partnership with our council colleagues to address these issues over the years but we have faced some challenges both in terms of our ability to identify suspects and to be proactive in targeting those involved before incidents occur.

“This injunction, if successfully granted, will give us much-needed additional powers to intervene at an early stage and prevent incidents before they occur. We hope this will help to reduce the number of incidents and improve the situation for the long-suffering residents.

“We also hope our use of these additional powers will send a very clear deterrent message to those youths who think it acceptable to behave like this.”

Cllr Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said: “We will not tolerate any form of anti-social behaviour in our communities, and will always use every tool at our disposal to put a stop to it.

"I welcome therefore the application for this injunction to tackle and stop firework-related anti-social behaviour in the community of Burley.”