28 October
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The West Lothian Community Safety Unit is made up of public organisations such as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Police Scotland and West Lothian Council.

Together, with the support and assistance from voluntary organisations and members of the public, they are promoting safety and responsibility this bonfire period and reminding West Lothian communities what they should do should they encounter any suspicious activity.

This year there is a particular focus on ensuring members of the public follow the fireworks code with the private use of fireworks in gardens set to increase as the majority of organised public firework displays are impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

Alasdair Perry is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Head of Prevention and Protection.

He said: "Due to the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing, many public events involving large gatherings have not taken place as planned.

"We continue to remind those considering hosting an informal private firework event to consider the impact of fireworks on others including the broader community, pet owners and emergency service workers.

"There is no doubt that fireworks present a genuine risk to spectators, particularly children, and that's why it is vital that anyone planning to host a private event familiarises themselves with our Fireworks Code before purchasing fireworks.

"In addition to the risk presented to the public, the impact on emergency services is traditionally significant. Last year we received nearly 900 calls from the public and attended more than 350 bonfires.

"While we will always respond where required, people across Scotland can help us by being mindful of the dangers presented by fireworks and to ensure they are aware of all key safety advice before hosting an informal event."

To find out more on the Fireworks Code and for further safety tips, please visit the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/fireworks-safety.aspx"

Sergeant Keith Jack from the West Lothian Community Policing Team said: " We have been working with our partners and local community groups over the past couple of years developing a much more proactive approach to reduce any antisocial behaviour, this worked particularly well last year when local people worked alongside Police and other services in the lead up to the 5th November.

"Dedicated teams of local officers will be on duty in the lead up to, and including Bonfire Night and will be engaging with young members of our communities to deter them from becoming involved in criminal activity. In addition, joint patrols with council colleagues will be undertaken to carry out environmental audits and remove any illegal bonfires or other items, which may be used for non-sanctioned bonfires.

"Our local resources will also be supported by specialist officers from Operation Moonbeam and these departments can be called upon at short notice should they be required.

"All reports of dangerous and antisocial behaviour involving fireworks will be thoroughly investigated over the Bonfire Night period. We would like everyone to enjoy this period and not let a few selfish individuals spoil it for everyone. Please contact 101 with any concerns and information to ensure a safe night for everyone."

Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul commented: "We wish for everyone in our communities to remain safe. With COVID-19 leaving many organised public events cancelled, this may result in an increase in the use of fireworks in private settings such as in back gardens. First of all, we would ask that all members of the public please follow the most up to date guidance when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions. Secondly, anyone who does wish to host a private event must ensure they listen to the advice from the Scottish Fire and Rescue service and familiarise themselves with the firework code and fire safety guidance.

I would ask members of the public to share any information they may have regarding suspicious activities around bonfire night with the appropriate authorities."

If you encounter an unregistered bonfire that is already alight please contact the SFRS on 999.

Illegal or any other suspicious activity can be reported to Police Scotland by calling 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

For any concerns regarding the potential illegal sale of fireworks please get in touch with West Lothian Council's Trading Standards service.

If you suspect an illegal bonfire may be under construction, or come across materials suspected of being used for bonfire purposes, then please get in touch with the council's NETS and Land services team. 

Get in touch with both Trading Standards and Waste by calling the council's customer service centre on 01506 280000.