Merseyside Police is encouraging young people, families and businesses to play their part in keeping communities safe over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.
This year Halloween and Bonfire night are going to look a lot different with the current Covid-19 restrictions in place and officers are urging people to stay safe and think about their actions.
Extra officers will be out across Merseyside over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period to ensure that people can enjoy themselves safely. Officers are also warning anyone who commits incidents of anti-social behaviour to expect a swift response.
The force has been involved in a multi-agency operation to across Merseyside and provide public reassurance, ensure that communities are safe and people are following Covid-19 regulations.
Chief Inspector Peter Clark, who is heading this year’s operation for Merseyside Police said: “As you know there are a number of rules and restrictions in place in relation to Covid-19 - that means that the planned displays and events we normally attend, will not be happening this year. We know that this is another sacrifice we are having to make, however now is a time to pull together, follow the guidance and help to stop the spread.
“We are keen to get the balance right between protecting people from the spread of the coronavirus and ensuring that they can still enjoy this period. We will maintain a common sense approach during the Halloween and Bonfire night period – and are working to encourage people to respect the restrictions and explain why they are so important. Where people are flouting restrictions, we will however take action.
He continued: "Our message regarding anti-social behaviour during this period remains simple – it will not be tolerated and anyone caught committing this type of offence will be dealt with firmly and robustly. No one should have to suffer being the victim of anti-social behaviour and I would like to reassure everyone that there will be extra high-visibility patrols during this time.
"We know the vast majority of young people have respect for other people and their property but we know the behaviour of some can go beyond fun.
"I would urge those young people who may be considering behaving in an unacceptable way to think about what you are doing and how you may make other people feel. How would you feel if a member of your own family was too frightened to leave their own home or walk down the street? Under no circumstances is it ok to throw things at people or their homes, commit criminal damage or abuse or intimidate people.”
The support of parents is also vital at this time of year. Together, we can minimise the risk - don’t let children hang around the streets with nowhere to go. It’s important to know who they are with and what they are doing, especially in the run up to Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Shopkeepers are also being urged not to sell any items that can be misused to cause damage, such as eggs, flour and cans of shaving foam as well as ensuring fireworks are not sold to under 18s.
Damage caused by used by Halloween ‘tricks’, such as throwing eggs and flour, or any objects at windows, doors, cars and people is a criminal offence and it is also illegal for those under the age of 18 to buy, carry, or use fireworks. Under the Explosives Act of 1875 it is also illegal to let off or throw a firework in a public place.
He continued: “Anyone involved in criminal behaviour could be arrested and receive a fine, a criminal record or even jail time. If your child is under 16 then you will be liable for payment of any fine.
“By taking some simple steps it could prevent that knock on their door from a police officer informing them that their child has been arrested or, worse still, has been involved in a serious accident.”
Joe Cunliffe, Station Manager at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We know things won’t be the same this year and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service still wants people to enjoy this period, but now is the time to pull together, follow the guidance and help stop the spread - it’s more important than ever that we all work together to protect our communities and the most vulnerable among them.
“Deliberately started fires on the run up to bonfire night are a huge drain on already overstretched Fire Service resources. What may seem like a bit of harmless fun to some can have life changing consequences and puts entire communities at risk. If firefighters are responding to a wheelie bin fire or illegal bonfire, it prevents them from responding to another incident - we can’t be in two places at once. Please have a conversation with your children about right and wrong.
“Already this year, fire crews have been subjected to physical and verbal attacks whilst carrying out their duty. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. All fire engines carry CCTV cameras and footage will be passed on to Merseyside Police. Please think twice and remember, actions have consequences.
“You can help to reduce the number of incidents this bonfire period by never giving combustible materials to anyone, especially young people, and making sure your wheelie bin is out of sight – only put it out on collection day and bring it back in in as soon as possible.”
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is encouraging members of the public NOT to have bonfires on public land this year in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
SM Cunliffe added: “Community bonfires must not take place on public land, as this will encourage people to gather in breach of current restrictions. MFRS will respond to reports of fires and will extinguish them throughout the bonfire period. We would urge people on the run-up to bonfire night to report any combustible material that could be used for deliberate fires via our website www.merseyfire.gov.uk, by calling 0800 731 5958 or via our social media pages.
“If you decide to have fireworks at home, please observe the restrictions and always follow the firework code.”
To report a crime, always contact 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can send Merseyside Police a direct message on twitter @MerPolCC, call 101 or @CrimestoppersUK.