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Police and war veteran issue warning ahead of Halloween and Bonfire period

Merseyside Police is encouraging young people, families and businesses to play their part in keeping communities safe over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period and is warning anyone who commits incidents of anti-social behaviour to expect a swift response. Extra officers will be out on the streets across Merseyside over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period to ensure people can enjoy the festivities in their area safely. Officers are asking parents to help keep communities safe by taking responsibility for their children’s whereabouts and to be mindful of any neighbours who may be elderly or vulnerable and who might feel frightened or intimidated. Shopkeepers are also being urged not to sell any items that can be misused to cause damage, such as eggs, flour and cans of shaving foam. The force has been involved in a multi-agency operation to provide a whole range of activities across Merseyside, organise events and provide public reassurance. Information about these events is available on the Merseyside Police and council websites.

Chief Inspector Chris Hitchell, who is heading this year’s operation said: "This is a fun time of year for everyone across Merseyside and we want people to enjoy the organised events and activities safely. "We know the vast majority of young people have respect for other people and their property but we know the behaviour of some can go beyond fun. "Our message during this period is simple – anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and anyone caught committing this type of offence will be dealt with firmly and robustly. No one should have to suffer being the victim of anti-social behaviour and I would like to reassure everyone that there will be extra high-visibility patrols during this time. "While there will be extra officers on the streets, I want to take this opportunity to remind people to take responsibility for themselves, for their children and also consider elderly or vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives, to whom even a knock on the door in the dark, can be intimidating.”

Last year Andy Reid, 40, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a triple amputee, narrowly avoided serious injury when a firework was let off near his café on Church Road in Rainford. Andy lost both legs and his right arm in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2009. After the incident on 19 October last year, police spoke to the 14-year-old boy who had set the firework off. The boy's parents paid £125 for Andy to have his mobile replaced – after he dropped it during the incident – and the boy wrote Andy a letter of apology when Andy agreed to a community resolution. Andy said: "The boy was not deliberately directing the firework towards me, but fireworks let off in the street could go anywhere and I consider myself very lucky that I was not seriously hurt. "The explosion also brought back some harrowing memories for me of my time in Afghanistan. If you set off a firework without a care for who might be around you, there could be veterans, elderly people or children around who could be left extremely frightened or worse. "I want to appeal directly to people to think very carefully before even thinking about setting off fireworks in the street. Please consider the possible consequences not just for the person who could be hurt but for yourself. I would also ask parents to be particularly aware of where your children are and what they are doing over the next two weeks. Their actions could cost them and you dearly. Do you really want to have to go out to see your child at a police station, or pay a fine because of their actions? "I know some younger teenagers put pressure on older kids and adults to buy fireworks for them – I would ask those older children to do the right thing and refuse. "There are organised displays taking place across Merseyside that can be enjoyed safely by families and I urge people to take advantage of those.”

Chief Inspector Chris Hitchell added: "The support of parents is vital. Don't let your children hang around streets with nowhere to go. Know who they are with and what they are doing, especially in the run up to Halloween and Bonfire Night. By taking these simple steps it could prevent that knock on their door from a police officer informing them that their child has been arrested or, worse still, has been involved in a serious accident. "Damage caused by Halloween ‘tricks’, such as throwing eggs and flour, or any objects at windows, doors, cars and people is a criminal offence. Anyone involved in such behaviour could be arrested and receive a fine, a criminal record or even jail time. If your child is under 16 then you will be liable for payment of any fines. "We have also been working hard with partner agencies to provide a variety of activities for young people and their families. So get involved in local events and have a safe and enjoyable time. "Finally I would like to remind people who are out ‘trick or treating’ that throwing eggs or flour at buildings, writing graffiti or any other acts of vandalism is regarded as criminal damage. Anyone caught committing these offences will be dealt with accordingly. Thankfully it’s only a small minority who take it too far and we hope that law-abiding members of the community enjoy this festive period." For information on activities happening over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period in Merseyside, visit: /autumn-fun

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