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Police in Cumbria are encouraging people to display in their windows the posters and vinyls they are handing out in the lead up to Halloween. The posters have 2 different messages. One poster informs children taking part in ‘trick or treat’ activities that it is okay to call whilst the other asks them to stay away, which you can download off this page and print off.
Calls to the police about anti-social behaviour can often rise at this time of year as some take the spirit of Halloween and bonfire night too far , with residents reporting young people causing trouble or intimidating vulnerable members of their neighbourhoods.
More police officers and PCSOs will be out on the streets this year to provide a reassuring presence to residents whilst also ensuring that those who want to celebrate the tradition do so sensibly and safely without causing unnecessary disturbance or distress to others.
Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said: “We know how much young people enjoy celebrating Halloween and we don’t want to spoil that, but we also know from previous years that calls, tricks or pranks that may be harmless fun to some people can cause real distress to others.
“Local Policing teams will be working with their communities over the next few weeks with a focus on Halloween and bonfire night. They will be issuing free posters to people to display in their windows indicating whether they want to have callers or not. If you or your family are taking part in trick or treat activities please ensure that you check to see if a poster is displayed and follow the request on it. Where callers are not welcome I would expect that the residents wishes are respected and callers stay away. If you are the parent of a child taking part in trick or treat activities this year please ensure they know when it is okay to knock on a door and when it is not.
“If you have not received a poster stating your preference and would like one please contact your local police station or you can print one off directly from Cumbria Constabulary’s website.
“Officers out on the beat will also be reminding young people of what is acceptable behaviour to ensure that they are aware of how easily action can turn from being a perceived harmless prank to becoming an action which is a criminal offence.
Local retailers are being visited by the police and Trading Standards Officers to ensure a thorough understanding of the laws concerning the sale of fireworks. It is essential that retailers know to call the police immediately anyone under the age of 18 attempts to purchase them. ACC Skeer continues: “We are working closely with local retailers and licensees who are actively helping us to ensure the safety of the public by ensuring fireworks and alcohol do not get into the hands of those who are under 18.
“Many people are unaware that generally it is against the law to use fireworks between 11pm and 7am, to throw fireworks on the road, or to be in possession of fireworks in a public place if you are under18 years of age. If you break this law you can receive an on the spot fine, be banned from a particular area for up to 48 hours or be arrested and taken into police custody. If you are under 18 and are suspected of being in possession of fireworks you may be searched, have your fireworks seized, and be taken home where your parents or guardians will be informed.
Fireworks have the potential to cause serious injury and damage to property and I am committed to ensuring that we do all we can to ensure that everyone can enjoy this time safely. If you know of someone supplying those under the age of 18 with fireworks please let us know immediately.”
Angela Jones, Cumbria County Council Trading Standards, said: "Trading Standards are reminding retailers that they need to be extra vigilant around Halloween and to take extra precautions to make sure they do not sell fireworks to people aged 18 and under. Firework misuse is not only a nuisance but is also dangerous. It is vital that we do all we can to prevent unsupervised young people from getting hold of fireworks.
“Any traders selling fireworks to under-age young people or selling illegally could face prosecution.”
In North Cumbria, a new season of Operation ‘Roman Candle’ is running between police, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service, Trading Standards, Riverside Housing Association and Carlisle Youth Zone.
This Operation aims to reduce the number of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage incidents reported to police, as well as the number of nuisance fires.
Police use an intelligence-led approach to target areas that are hotspots for anti-social behaviour and will use additional patrols and CCTV cameras to ensure that officers can take early action and tackle any problems before they escalate.
Extra police and PCSO patrols will be working with partners to remove or extinguish unauthorised bonfires, complete arson audits to establish vulnerable areas and pay close attention to the sale of fireworks amongst local retailers.
Kevin Johnston, station manager at Carlisle East Fire Station added: “Our crews have been out in the community visiting schools and talking about the dangerous implications of starting fires and playing with fireworks and we’ll be stepping up that message during Operation Roman Candle.
“Our aim is to keep everyone safe at over Halloween and Bonfire Night, but we need the public to help us by reporting illegally built bonfires to the city council, reporting anti-social behaviour to the police and removing the opportunity for a fire to be started by clearing bins, skips and other combustible materials.”