“Police were targeted with fireworks and other missiles”

Police have launched a comprehensive investigation following incidents of disorder involving groups of youths in the Harehills area of Leeds on Bonfire Night.

A total of 15 local males, aged 11 to 23, have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder following the incidents in the Harehills Road area. They remain in custody.

Four officers received injuries during the incidents, in which police were targeted with fireworks and other missiles. Two were treated at hospital but none were seriously injured.

Police initially responded to reports of youths gathering in the Banstead Park area and lighting a fire at about 6pm. Community mediators assisted and attempted to disperse the youths.

By 7.30pm, youths had set fire to a wheelie bin in Harehills Road and when officers were deployed to the scene they came under attack from fireworks. Passing motorists had also been targeted.

Further bins were moved into the road and set alight as more youths congregated in the area and directed further fireworks and missiles towards officers.

The road was closed while officers contained the incident and used public order tactics to disperse those involved and make arrests.

By about 12.30am this morning the situation was calmed and relative normality returned to the area.

A full post-incident investigation has now been launched which will see detectives working to identify further suspects by analysing footage from local CCTV cameras and material gathered by specialist evidence gathering teams as well as helicopter and body-worn cameras.

Chief Superintendent Steve Cotter, Leeds District Commander, said: “The behaviour witnessed last night was completely unacceptable and I know that all members of the Harehills community are as appalled as we are at what occurred.

“We already had detailed partnership planning in place to deal with any such incidents, and this allowed us to respond quickly and bring matters to a peaceful conclusion without any significant impact on the safety of people in the area.

“We are now carrying out a full and comprehensive investigation to identify those involved in these offences and will be taking firm action against them.

“There is absolutely no suggestion that this was the result of any tension in the community or animosity towards the police. This appears to have been about a hooligan element of local youths seeing an opportunity on Bonfire Night to engage in firework-related disorder on a large-scale.

“They are very naïve if they think their actions won’t now have consequences and we will be sending a very clear message to them over the coming days and weeks as our investigation progresses.

“Police officers were deliberately targeted and injured during these incidents and that is not something we can ever accept. We are looking after their welfare and will make sure we do everything we can to identify the people responsible for those attacks and take appropriate action.

“We are continuing to work closely with our partner agencies, particularly Leeds City Council, and are liaising with key community representatives to keep them informed and updated.

“Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team are maintaining a presence in the area today to reassure people and will be maintaining their links in what remains a very close-knit community where I know people won’t allow an incident such as this to overshadow the many positive aspects of daily life.

“I would ask that anyone in the community who has information that could assist our investigation show their support for the Harehills community by passing that on to us.”

Anyone with information, particularly any relevant mobile phone or dashcam footage, is asked to contact Leeds District CID via 101 quoting Operation Daydon or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.