Police in Edinburgh to sue after Niddrie Bonfire Night chaos led to hearing loss

Police in Edinburgh who suffered hearing damage during Bonfire Night chaos are set to launch legal claims.

Officers have said Police Scotland failed to provide them with adequate ear protection, despite having the equipment. On November 5, police were subject to "unprecedented" levels of violence.

Fireworks and petrol bombs were launched at cops in the Niddrie area. At least eight officers were injured during the "ugly" scenes.

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Video footage shared with Edinburgh Live at the time of the incident showed cops being targeted with flaming projectiles and other explosives. Police formed a line of defence, in riot gear as rockets hit their shields.

Drone footage showed a petrol bomb being launched at a line of police officers, who had to move back as it torched the ground in front of them. 1919 Magazine revealed that 34 officers have since reported hearing issues, after being targeted.

The Scottish Police Federation is working with around 20 police officers affected. They have sought legal advice from a personal injury solicitor on their behalf.

It's understood that the force bought around 10,000 sets of sound suppressors, designed to protect against hearing loss whilst allowing officers to hear conversations and listen to police radios.

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These devices had not been tested in time so had not been deployed for Operation Moonbeam, the nationwide response to Bonfire Night.

Gordon Forsyth, the SPF’s health and safety assistant to the general secretary, told 1919 Magazine: "The cops were exposed to two to three hours of constant barrage of fireworks.

"They’re still experiencing problems. Some of them may recover, but it’s likely for a few of them it will be a permanent problem, particularly the tinnitus. There are some who have come back to light duties – they’re probably the worst affected. For a few of them it’s quite significant."

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs, gold commander for Operation Moonbeam, said: "The safety of our officers and staff is our number one priority and we are committed to protecting our personnel from injury and harm while on duty.

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"Prior to Operation Moonbeam 2023, Police Scotland purchased new noise-cancelling ear defenders, which are designed to protect our officers' hearing without compromising their ability to hear routine sounds or conversations in a noisy environment. These had not been public order tested in time for use during the operation, but have since been provided to officers deployed for policing the Hogmanay street party, sporting events and other major operations.

"In total, 34 officers, who dealt with the unprecedented levels of violence and disorder experienced during last year's Bonfire Night period, reported some issues with their hearing after being targeted by fireworks and these officers continue to be supported. A full rollout of new noise defenders is currently underway for all police officers."

Meanwhile, laws to ban fireworks in problem areas in Scotland could be squandered for a second year after only one council put plans in place. Firework control zones were legislated for last summer, though councils didn't have time to implement ahead of Bonfire Night.

Council leaders in Edinburgh have spoken positively about control zones, though no firm plans have yet been launched.