Arrests over Bonfire Night disorder expected ‘in coming days’, says minister

Arrests in connection with Bonfire Night disorder which left nine emergency service workers injured are expected “in the coming days”, a Scottish Government minister has said.

Police and firefighters clashed with young people on Sunday, with fireworks and petrol bombs thrown and 21 crimes committed, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said.

The worst disorder took place in the Niddrie area of Edinburgh, where police say about 50 youths were involved on Hay Avenue in a repeat of scenes from last year in the same area.

Speaking in Holyrood on Tuesday, community safety minister Siobhian Brown condemned the “totally despicable” violence as she expressed her gratitude to the emergency service workers involved.

Two arrests have so far been made, one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.

Police Scotland said on Tuesday night a 39-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with fireworks thrown at police in Livingston, West Lothian.

The force said: “A 39-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with a large scale disturbance, including fireworks being directed at police officers on November 5 at Letham Park, Craigshill.

“Investigations remain ongoing into multiple reports of reckless use of fireworks throughout West Lothian.”

He is expected to appear at Livingston Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Line of Police Scotland officers
Nine emergency service workers were injured in the violence, according to the Justice Secretary (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“There have been two arrests so far and the police are looking at intelligence and there will be more arrests in coming days,” Ms Brown said earlier under questioning from Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr.

The violence has sparked calls for an outright ban on firework sales to the public – something the Scottish Government has said is not within the power of the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland earlier on Tuesday, Ms Constance said she would be open to a ban.

“I’m open-minded about it, open to discussion,” she said.

“It’s not within our powers for an outright ban, but open to discussion.”

Her comments came in response to Edinburgh City Council leader Cammy Day, who said something must change before “someone is seriously, seriously injured”.

Speaking on Monday, First Minister Humza Yousaf, who criticised the “thuggish” and “reckless” behaviour from those involved, said he would consider such a move if it was within the Scottish Government’s powers.

He added: “But it shouldn’t require the Government to stop people throwing fireworks at fire officers, stopping them hurling bricks at our police officers – you don’t need legislation to know that that is unacceptable.”

Former children and young people’s commissioner, Tam Baillie, told the BBC that cuts to youth services in deprived areas could have been a factor in the disorder.

But Ms Constance said: “I would dispute that, but the point that Mr Baillie makes about prevention is an important one and this Government continues to invest in preventative services.”

She pointed to the CashBack for Communities programme, which redirects funds seized by police under the Proceeds of Crime Act to youth services, and the violence reduction framework as such investments.