Tag Archives: Bonfire Night

Halloween Headache

The witching hour is upon us once again – for some a source of great fun, for others something to be dreaded. I think you probably either love or hate Halloween! What comes to your mind when you think about this time of year? The clocks going back, gathering round a bonfire or going to a fireworks display, children dressed up in a vast array of Halloween outfits? As a child I remember going down to the local fireworks display, bundled up in hat, scarf and gloves.

I don’t remember anything much going on for Halloween. That has definitely increased in recent years. There is a spike in anti-social behaviour over the two events of Halloween and Bonfire Night. Police officers know it and increase their patrols. Some areas run special Operations to target anti-social behaviour over these two weekends.

It can be a time of deep fear for some people, especially the most vulnerable. The elderly, people with disabilities or suffering ill health (physical or mental) may find the modern-day celebrations of Halloween scary or threatening. Misuse of fireworks is dangerous and can be frightening.

Victims of persistent anti-social behaviour are already struggling to cope with the effects of noise or harassment, or environmental ASB. Some will use Halloween and Bonfire Night as an excuse to make their lives even more unbearable. Others may not realise the harm and distress they are causing and that Halloween and Bonfire Night antics may push their neighbour’s over the edge in what they can cope with.

To those taking part in Halloween and Bonfire Night activities:

Remember they are not an excuse to make a nuisance of yourself nor get into trouble with the law. Respect the fact some of your neighbours may not want to join in the fun. Be considerate of them, for example many young children and pets are very scared of bangs, elderly people may be terrified of opening the door to a stranger in the dark.

To those who do not like getting involved:

Prepare for the events so that you are not caught off-guard. Respect those who wish to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night and know how you will respond. Be tolerant of a bit of noise – it is only once a year after all. If you feel scared, have a look at our tips for coping with that.

HOWEVER, if things get out of hand, and especially if you are already a victim of persistent anti-social behaviour and this is the final straw, or you are being targeted and harassed, please please report it to the authorities. They can only act if they know about the problem. Act Now! Don’t suffer in silence. The police are on high alert awaiting your call.

Tolerate Respect

A helpful poster I saw recently at Leicestershire Police Headquarters highlighted these two words when looking at anti-social behaviour – Tolerate (in this particular poster above the photo of an elderly person); Respect (above the young boy). At this time of year where incidents of anti-social behaviour traditionally increase thanks to Halloween and Bonfire Night, I think Tolerate Respect frames the debate nicely.

Tolerate

Earlier this year some research was published by the University of Cambridge entitled Generation Blame revealing an important disconnect in the interpretations of anti-social behaviour of adults and young people. Of particular note is the high percentage of adults who considered young people’s presence in public places as ASB regardless of their behaviour.

Having a bit of fun at Halloween, making some noise on the way to and from a fireworks display for Bonfire Night, is more often than not, harmless behaviour. We would not want people, especially young people, to choose to never spend time outdoors for fear they would be branded anti-social. It would make for eerily quiet streets. When looking at what constitutes anti-social behaviour we are careful to remind people to be reasonable.

Respect

Yet, there is an important flip side to this. It is easy for harmless behaviour to cross a line and become intimidating, and cause harassment, alarm, distress, a nuisance. Those out having fun need to remember to do so within the constraints of the law and not use it as an excuse to act in an inappropriate manner. When this happens against people who already feel intimidated by the individuals in question, the situation can bring real misery.

Whatever our personal opinions of Halloween or Bonfire Night, the police and other agencies are on the alert to make sure those who enjoy these occasions do so in an appropriate way and that anti-social behaviour is dealt with swiftly. The new anti-social behaviour legislation has been designed to put victims first and protect them from those who will use any excuse to cause problems – this is as true at this time of year as any other.