Fireworks concern at Bridge Centre

The Bridge Centre in Stornoway.
The Bridge Centre in Stornoway.

Anti-social behaviour at Lews Castle Grounds was highlighted this week, when complaints to police about a group of teenagers throwing fireworks at the Bridge Centre in Stornoway, were highlighted on social media.

The matter came to light when the Bridge Centre, which provides accommodation for students attending Lews Castle College UHI, posted on their Facebook page on Sunday afternoon: “Well what a night we had here at the Bridge Centre last night (Saturday, October 26th). Fireworks and stones were thrown at the windows of the accommodation from 6.30pm to 9pm.

“Police were called a few times but they said they were too busy to attend.

“I was watching about 25 children on the cameras up in the trees running down to the bridge, lighting the fireworks and throwing them at the building, at one time the students looked out the windows only for the kids to shout and swear at them then light more fireworks and throw them at their windows.

“I feel very let down by both the police and the kids involved. Shame on you all”.

Anti-social behaviour, in or around, Lews Castle Grounds has been an ongoing problem for some time.

When asked about the latest incident, Police Scotland said: “Police were called to the Bridge Centre Accommodation Complex following reports of a firework related disturbance at the property on Saturday 26th October, 2019.

“Due to prioritising demands and available resources at the time, police attended later in the evening, however, there was no trace on arrival.

“Enquiries are continuing into the incident and a number of other reports of youths setting off fireworks in the area.

“Anyone with any information in relation to this incident can contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 3711 of Saturday 26th October 2019.”

However, police were unable to give details about how they intend to deal with anti-social behaviour in the area in the future.

Also contacted by the public about the matter, Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan highlighted his concerns, he told the Gazette: “Misuse of fireworks in this manner is extremely troubling and I have contacted Police Scotland to urge them to investigate this incident.

“This sort of reckless behaviour cannot be tolerated. People should be under no illusion regarding the dangers of messing around with fireworks and the potential criminal charges associated with their misuse.”

He added: “While legislation governing the sale of fireworks is reserved to the UK Parliament, earlier this week (Tuesday, October 29th) the Scottish Government outlined to the Scottish Parliament ways in which it can reduce the damage caused by fireworks misuse.

“I do think that we need to see tighter controls on the sale of fireworks to avoid more of these kinds of incidents in the future.

“We also have to think about the impact on pets and people with autism or post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Following the discussion in the Scottish Parliament about fireworks misuse on Tuesday, it was announced that restrictions to the use of fireworks on private property across Scotland will be considered by a new Government review group.

The group will also consider changes to the times at which fireworks can be let off and look at options around the potential introduction of no-fireworks zones.

It is hoped this action plan will help to reduce the negative impact of fireworks on communities.

In the meantime Police officers do have stop and search powers under the Fireworks Act 2003, to try and combat anti-social behaviour such as Saturday’s Bridge Centre incident.

Scotland wide figures from 2015/16 - the first year these statistics were available - showed Police carried out 273 searches, with 32 “positive” searches leading to dangerous explosives being taken out off the streets.

However last year 2018/19 this had fallen to only 29 searches with fireworks recovered on four occasions.

Almost all of the stop and searches involved teenagers and - not surprisingly - the vast majority were in October or November.