Police warning after riot involving Preston youths mars fireworks event

Rioting kids in Blackpool town centre
Rioting kids in Blackpool town centre
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Police today warned young troublemakers: “You are being watched.”

Thousands of people are expected to flood into Blackpool tonight for the final of the World Fireworks Championships.

It comes after last Friday’s shocking events when a mass brawl involving up to 500 youngsters broke out on Bank
Hey Street and saw police attacked – leaving three officers injured.

In a bid to head off any repeat, extra officers – wearing body cameras to film events – have been drafted in while town centre CCTV will be monitored all night.

Council chiefs say they have worked with police to make sure tonight is a fun event for families.

Last week’s trouble followed another incident three weeks ago where youths were seen fighting on the street as terrified families looked on.

Today police pledged there would be no repeat and warned youngsters would be monitored across the town centre.

It comes as teachers said they would support police in identifying any troublemakers.

One headteacher said: “It is alarming that this has built in the way it has done. Hopefully we don’t see anything like that again this week.”

Police have written to headteachers at schools across Blackpool, Fleetwood and Preston, urging them to speak to pupils in assemblies in the hope they will stay out of trouble.

And extra police are set to be deployed in the town centre following last week’s disturbances.

Mobile CCTV units will be in use, police wearing body cameras will be stationed around the town and Blackpool Council’s CCTV cameras will be monitored by a town hall worker and a police officer throughout the night.

Insp James Martin, of Blackpool Police, said: “Young people need to be aware there is a lot of CCTV in Blackpool town centre. Incidents that may occur will be captured.

“We want people to come to Blackpool to enjoy themselves and enjoy the fireworks. We want people to enjoy places like Coral Island and all the other attractions, that’s what we want as a resort.

“What we don’t want is people simply coming thinking there is going to be disorder or something to watch.

“They may end up getting involved in something they never intended to be. We don’t want pupils to get involved in an incident they will later regret.”

The call has been echoed by headteachers.

Twelve people were arrested following last Friday’s trouble, the youngest aged just 13.

It is understood the trouble flared after police tried to break up a pre-arranged fight between youths from Blackpool and Preston.

Sweeping stop and search powers, known as section 60 orders, which allow police to search someone even if they do not suspect them of wrongdoing, could even be used to stop any disorder.

Police were called to Bank Hey Street at around 9pm last Friday. Trouble spread to several other nearby streets.

Three officers received minor injuries in the fracas.

But the trouble has left town centre businesses concerned that further outbreaks of violence involving youngsters could make the area a “no go zone” for families.

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for leisure and tourism at Blackpool Council, said: “This week’s World Fireworks Championships finale should be a fabulous event.

“There were obvious concerns last week that a small minority of people used the event to cause trouble in the town centre.

“The police have acknowledged that and will be putting in place measures that ensure that families can come on to Blackpool Promenade to enjoy what is one of the most spectacular nights of the year.”