A campaign to combat crime and disorder has been launched in South Tyneside in the run up to Bonfire Night.
The Darker Nights campaign will once again see South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes, Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service work together to to tackle problems that tend to peak around this time of year.
Now in its eleventh year, the campaign will run until Sunday, November 5, to tackle issues such as unauthorised bonfires, underage firework sales and criminal damage.
Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “The approach to Halloween and Bonfire Night is a time of fun and excitement but it is also an extremely hazardous period. What is fun for some, can cause misery for others.
“We want all our residents to have an enjoyable Bonfire Night and stay safe but we would encourage them to think of others and behave responsibly. We would also ask local people to help us on this by reporting any problems they come across.”
As part of the campaign, the council’s Trading Standards team will be talking to retailers about their responsibilities in the sale and safe storage of fireworks.
Police and fire officers will be carrying out joint patrols throughout the area and neighbourhood officers from South Tyneside Homes will be going on a number of walkabouts talking to residents about fly-tipping, littering and graffiti concerns.
Northumbria Police Chief Inspector Lisa Hogan said: “Officers from our neighbourhood teams have already started going into schools to speak to pupils about how they can stay safe.
“We’ll also be carrying out regular patrols in the areas where young people tend to gather and while they will intervene if anti-social behaviour gets out of hand.”
Over the years the number of wheelie bins stolen during the Halloween and Bonfire Night period has increased and residents are being asked to ensure their wheelie bins are out only on collection day and brought in as soon as possible after they have been emptied.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will also be talking to schoolchildren about the dangers of bonfires and the misuse of fireworks.
Ian Cuskin, Station Manager at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, commented: “Bonfire Night is rightly a time to celebrate our heritage and is a great time for families. “But it’s essential that we all work together to make it a safe one for everyone involved – and that includes firefighters.
“There are some great organised displays in South Tyneside and we would encourage families to visit one, rather than try and host their own.”
Residents who see incidents of abandoned waste, anti-social behaviour and illegal bonfires are being encouraged to report them on 0191 427 7000.
Incidents of illegal or underage sales of fireworks or alcohol can be reported by calling the Freephone hotline: 0800 935 878 or text UNDERAGE followed by the details to: 07786 200 802.