Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween brings tricks and threats

A police officer on the beat in Loughton on Wednesday night

Halloween may bring a treat for many children, but every year anti-social behaviour brings misery to others. In Loughton, Essex, north-east of London, scores of youths ran amok setting off fireworks. The police presence was too little and too late to control the disorder that was present in the High Road. It was not an isolated case. In Hornchurch, Essex, a police van packed with officers rushed to where more than 50 youngsters, aged between 12 and 18 years had gathered. As the police arrived the youths scattered, running across a filling station forecourt and across a busy road. It was only luck that prevented an accident as the youths ran between cars in an attempt to flee from the police. And in Watford police themselves were the target after lit fireworks were thrown at them [Watford Observer].

More serious incidents were reported yesterday with fireworks being used maliciously. One elderly man was subject to an arson attack with a firework push through his letterbox. London Tonight’s reporters were shocked at such a brazen disrespect to a war veteran. “You could have killed someone”, the reporter said. Sky News also reported on a firework attack in a shop. The resulting explosion caused one person to seek hospital treatment for smoke inhalation. A baby only narrowly avoided being injured in the attack in Bolton. The incident gained international coverage after CCTV pictures were released. Fox News also reported the attack which was widely covered in the UK press and on TV news [BBC].

Heather Mills, the estranged wife of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, was also the subject of criticism after it was alleged her ‘anti-social behaviour’ had resulted in the death of someone’s pet dog. reported that a firework party had scared a neighbour’s dog to death. Fireworks have become an increasing public nuisance with the use not confined to the 5th of November. Members of the public keep the devices for other celebrations including birthdays, New Year celebrations and weddings. But the real cause for concern is the misuse by children. Shops have been targeted by police to prevent sales to minors, but youngsters are still able to obtain the dangerous items [Peterborough Today].

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