Scuffles as eight held at London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display

  • london
  • January 1, 2023
  • Comments Off on Scuffles as eight held at London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display
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Scuffles broke out shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve in London as ticketless revellers tried to access restricted areas. But overall there were only eight arrests as huge crowds returned to the capital for the first time in three years after pandemic curbs.

Metropolitan police officers drew their batons when a “small but determined group”, who had pushed down fence panels in an attempt to get in, became aggressive towards stewards and officers, Scotland Yard said.

It was one of a number of incidents where groups of people without tickets forced their way past hoardings and fencing, which required police to support stewards in “challenging circumstances” to prevent crowds from getting into the ticketed area and “maintain the safety and security of those already inside”.

The trouble occurred in the 45 minutes before the London Eye was illuminated with 12,000 fireworks to a soundtrack from Stormzy to Neil Diamond and 400 illuminated drones formed the shape of the late Queen’s profile before morphing into that of King Charles III.

Six restricted zones on either side of the Thames were designated for more than 100,000 holders of £15 tickets, which went on sale in October and revellers were urged not to try to attend without a ticket.

Speaking after the display, which also highlighted the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, England’s victorious Lionesses football team and a message of support to Ukraine, the London mayor, Sadiq Khan said: “I’m proud that we have sent a message of love, hope and unity.”

The handful of arrests included two for drunk and disorderly behaviour, one for drink-driving and one for possession of an offensive weapon. There were two assaults on police officers who sustained minor injuries and one common assault with possession of cannabis.

A 31-year-old man, wanted by the British Transport Police for five alleged indecent assaults against women, was arrested on the South Bank as part of routine patrols ahead of the new year celebration.

Elsewhere, police shut down a rave in woods in Somerset where up to 200 people had gathered around a sound system and generator. Avon and Somerset police were called to Rowberrow Woods 25 minutes after midnight, but said the organisers turned the music off at 7.30am.

In Scarborough, the council cancelled fireworks on the advice of marine life experts after an arctic walrus arrived in the harbour earlier in the day. The decision to scrap the display came amid fears the bangs may distress the mammal.