A bit to crack down on fire-related crime and anti-social behaviour in the run up to Bonfire Night is being launched in South Tyneside.
Darker Nights, now in its 12th year, aims to tackle problems that tend to peak around this time of year - like unauthorised bonfires, underage firework sales and criminal damage.
South Tyneside Council - along with South Tyneside Homes and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police, aim to prevent issues happening in the first place.
Coun Nancy Maxwell, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Halloween and Bonfire Night is a time of fun and excitement. But it is also an extremely hazardous period and what is fun for some, can cause misery for others.
“Once again we will be working with our partners to take a proactive approach to tackling problems so that we can deal with them early on or even prevent them from happening in the first place.
“We want all our residents to have an enjoyable Bonfire Night and stay safe and are asking them to support us on this by reporting any problems they come across.”
As part of the campaign, the Council’s Trading Standards team will be out talking to local retailers about their responsibilities on the sale and safe storage of fireworks and neighbourhood officers from South Tyneside Homes will also be going on walkabouts talking to residents about fly-tipping, littering and graffiti concerns.
Historically, the number of wheelie bins stolen during the Halloween and Bonfire Night period increases and, once again, local residents are reminded not to leave their bin out in the street. Residents are asked to ensure their wheelie bins are only put out on collection day and brought in as soon as possible after they have been emptied.
Coun Maxwell added: “Stolen bins are often set on fire and obviously this has the potential for serious consequences."
As Bonfire Night draws closer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will 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, said: “Bonfire Night is a time to celebrate our heritage 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. We have lots of information on our website on candle and firework safety, displays in the area and the dangers of firework misuse. I’d urge everyone to take a look.”
Sgt Steve Prested, of Northumbria Police, said: “We want to ensure everyone enjoys the Halloween and Bonfire period safely. Over the coming weeks, officers will be going into schools to speak to students and remind them that while this time of year is full of fun and excitement for some, other members of the community can feel intimidated and frightened.
“Regular patrols will also be carried out in areas where large groups tend to gather.
A special rate is also being offered to residents for the removal of bulky waste. Bulky waste collections of up to eight items will be available for £20 (£5 saving), between Monday, October 22 and Monday, November 5.
Booking is essential on (0191) 427 7000.
Residents who see incidents of abandoned waste, anti-social behaviour and illegal bonfires are also encouraged to Report It! it on 427 7000.
Incidents of illegal or underage sales of fireworks or alcohol can be reported by calling the Freephone hotline 0800 935 878.