MOST of the debris has been removed from the streets of Niddrie after riotous scenes broke out in the neighbourhood on Bonfire Night, though some spent rockets and bumper boxes of fireworks remain.

Locals who spoke to The National seemed unsurprised if saddened by the carnage which visited the deprived Edinburgh neighbourhood at the weekend and blamed a lack of organised activities and a pre-existing confrontational relationship with the police for the disorder.

A woman who worked locally and did not wish to be named said there was little on offer for many of Niddrie’s teenagers to tempt them away from throwing fireworks, riding on dirt bikes and setting fire to bins.

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There were reports of teenagers setting off rockets while racing down the neighbourhood’s main drag.

The local worker pointed to alternatives, such as an initiative launched by the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre, in nearby Moredun, which took a group of 59 local youths to Alton Towers.

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In a Facebook post, the centre said it took the trip “to offer young people an alternative, and ensure that others weren’t caught up in the dispersal zones in our local area”.

It is understood there was no dispersal zone – where police are given exceptional powers to disperse groups in the name of public order – in Niddrie over the weekend, but Edinburgh police were forced to issue social media warnings to avoid the area on Bonfire Night as they cracked down on disorder.

One police officer was injured in the chaos and a Farm Foods nearby had its windows broken.

'There's nothing here for them'

One local father-of-six told this paper there was already a confrontational attitude towards police among many young people in Niddrie.

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He said: “We all got letters through the door, the police are going to be coming down hard on folk – that was before a firework was even set off.”

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, suggested the police had come into the area expecting trouble, leading to an escalation.

He added: “If you come into an area like this and you act like that, you’re going to get a retaliation.

“That’s been the cause of what happened. I’ve stayed up here for a long time and I know how you’re going to get a reaction if police come in heavy-handed.”

There is a “shocking” lack of things to do for local teenagers to do in the area for Bonfire Night, he claimed – adding that there had previously been an unofficial event, featuring a bonfire and fireworks, put on by residents which had been abandoned because police kept breaking it up.

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He added: “There’s nothing around here for them. There used to be one up at Niddrie Mains Road, where the old library used to be – so if you come in here and stop everything that they’re allowed to do, then they’re going to do stuff they’re not allowed to do. They’re going to have to do something. I think it’s quite shan myself.”

Teenagers 'angry and disenfranchised'

Kate Campbell, the SNP councillor for the area, said the current approach to policing the neighbourhood was not working.

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She told The National: “It’s been a really terrifying time for residents and the emergency services who have had to respond on the front line. We have to recognise that our approaches haven’t been working, and we need to look harder at what we can do to prevent this from happening again.

“We need to invest in youth work, and recognise the correlation between this kind of disorder and poverty. We need to do more to tackle poverty and inequality.

"Nothing excuses the horrendous disorder but I can understand why young people are angry when so many families are going without food.

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"It’s so sad that many young people are so disenfranchised from their community, and their own future, that they have behaved in a way that puts themselves, and others, at serious risk of harm.

“We need to develop a policy approach which is about recognising the causes of this behaviour, and tackling the cause. And we need to listen to young people to do that.”

Copy cats? 

One local mum said there were children and teenagers constantly riding dirt bikes around the area and said young people thought they could get away with it.

She added she believed her neighbours had been copying the actions of teenagers in the Kirkton area of Dundee on Halloween, the previous weekend.

There, police became targets for fireworks and rocks, with bins lined up as roadblocks by locals and then set alight in scenes the city’s council leader said looked like they had come from a war film.

But other residents seemed less concerned about the events of Saturday night.

Retiree Graham Anderson, 65, said fireworks in the area had gotten worse in the past two years, but said he was not worried about the growing levels of disorder.

He added: “I’ve lived about here for about 30 years.

“The fireworks have got worse. Niddrie’s always had a bad name for me, it’s always been alright.”

One woman working from the shed in her garden said simply: “Bairns will be bairns, as far as I’m concerned.”