Police tackle Halloween and firework chaos in Woolwich

Videos have emerged of violent groups in Woolwich clashing with police and setting off fireworks, aiming them at buses and people during the Halloween celebrations.

In a repeat of seemingly annual antisocial chaos, videos showed large numbers gathered in Woolwich High Street and General Gordon Square battling with police squads on Saturday night.

As shown in the above video from Twitter user @zillz3x, dozens of fireworks were set off, many aimed at buses, flats and people.

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One resident even filmed hooded figures putting fireworks through people’s letterboxes.

Police were on the scene urging people to leave the area as groups of youths were seen running away from lit fireworks from approximately 7:30pm through until midnight.

According to some reports, officers were chased away by groups and had fireworks aimed at them.

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Social media users took to Twitter and Snapchat to post videos of the chaos, which took place across the evening of October 31, Halloween.

Whilst largely concentrated in the centre of Woolwich, areas across south east London suffered mass antisocial behaviour.

Eltham West Police were among the teams called to tackle such behaviour, and confirmed at least one teenage male was arrested for setting off fireworks in the street in Kidbrooke.

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Last year saw similar scenes, even including a gang setting off fireworks inside a cinema in Eltham.

Met Police said they were “bearing down” on the violence as part of their Autumn Nights campaign, which targets ASB during Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations.

A spokesperson said: “Violence and anti-social behaviour tend to increase at this time of year when the nights draw in earlier.

“A range of operational activity is planned over the three-week period to intensify existing efforts within the Met to prevent and bear down on violence in all its forms.

“Officers will target the most dangerous offenders, maximise diversion opportunities and increase their presence through targeted patrols in areas expected to be affected by violence and anti-social behaviour.

“A number of intelligence-led automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) operations will also catch and arrest violent offenders on the move around the capital. This is supported by proactive work of our Violence Suppression Units, and Violent Crime Taskforce.”
 

With Covid-19 restrictions in place, the Met said community events for Halloween and Bonfire Night unfortunately were not allowed to take place.

Additional patrols across London will see officers engage with the public and, where necessary, take enforcement action against those who fail to abide by government restrictions.

Commander Jane Connors said: “This year has been challenging for the public and we are maximising on our priority of tackling violent crime during our annual Autumn Nights campaign.

”A cadre of officers from across the Met have planned various elements to prevent violence and anti-social behaviour; divert individuals away from becoming involved in such crimes; engage with our communities and carry out enforcement on the most dangerous offenders.

“For some time now, our top priority has been to decrease violence and this remains the case. We are working around the clock to target those causing the most harm to our communities.

“We believe it is important to do our bit to divert people at risk of making the wrong choices and going down the wrong path in life. A huge aspect of this seasonal activity will complement existing work to divert and support individuals away from criminality.

“We hope our communities can find alternative ways to enjoy the autumn festivities. We must remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic and we will continue to step in where necessary.”

 

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