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Published: Tuesday, 2nd November 2021

We are appalled by the violence which erupted in Woolwich Town Centre on Sunday evening.

Four police officers were badly injured after individuals started throwing hundreds of lit fireworks at each other and other members of the public. Over 30 arrests have been made, including for possession of a taser, possession of fireworks under 18-years-old, assault on emergency workers and affray. 

Leader of the Council Cllr Danny Thorpe, said: “I am shocked and appalled by the senseless violence that broke out in Woolwich last night caused by a minority of young people, particularly that members of the public and the police were injured. There is clearly a risk of further disorder, so I am asking all families to work with us and make sure your children are kept as safe as possible. 

“This kind of violence is just as serious as any knife or firearm crime. The effects of fireworks are extremely dangerous when used illegally. They can cause serious and life-changing injuries, and in some cases, death.” 

Cllr Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, said: “We have had reports that fireworks were thrown at members of the public including a woman and her two small children and that police officers were attacked while others prevented help being given. At one point, emergency workers were prevented  from helping a man who had a suspected heart attack after a firework was thrown at him too. Even as he received urgent care, people continued to throw fireworks in his direction.” 

A spokesperson for Greenwich Police, said: “This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. The officers who were injured yesterday were just trying to do their jobs and prevent disorder. We will be on patrol this evening, on foot and in marked police vehicles in the area, as an extra precaution.” 

The blatant disregard for the safety of others is incredibly shocking. General Gordon Square will remain closed to the public until after Saturday 6 November, to prevent crowds from gathering. A letter has also been sent to local schools and parents, urging them to help keep children safe. The council and police are also appealing for any information that may help prevent further incidents or someone coming to serious harm.  

While police and council resources were diverted to tackling the firework violence, a fight broke out between a group of teenage boys which resulted in the stabbing of a 14-year-old boy. The incident was spotted on CCTV and police were immediately informed. The victim is currently in a stable condition and has not suffered life-changing injuries.  

You must be aged 18 or over to purchase and use fireworks. Category 4 fireworks are banned for sale to the public and are for professional displays only. If you are aware of any sale of illegal fireworks to children or teenagers, please report this to the police immediately. You can do so anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

For more information about staying safe this Autumn, visit www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/autumntips