Tom Swarbrick 10pm - 1am
Police officer hospitalised after mass brawl at Edinburgh Meadows
4 April 2021, 17:50 | Updated: 4 April 2021, 19:30
Police have accused politicians of "offloading predictable problems" onto them, after a mass brawl in Edinburgh Meadows left an officer hospitalised and three people charged.
Videos posted on social media showed police intervening and wrestling young people to the ground after multiple fights broke out on Saturday evening.
Young men were seen punching each other, with one struck by a bottle as crowds egged them on.
It came after thousands of people gathered in the park on Saturday to enjoy the warm weather as Scotland's stay-at-home order came to an end.
Police Scotland said they were called to multiple incidents over the day and that officers responded quickly "in the face of some blatant anti-social behaviour" by people who "were intent on disorder".
Three people have been charged in connection with anti-social behaviour and a serious assault, the force said.
A male officer was injured during one of the arrests and was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where he was treated for a facial injury. He was later discharged.
Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor said police were working with the council to create a "zero tolerance" approach, with officers deployed to the Meadows "over Easter and the coming weekends, as a minimum".
Hostilities were 'foreseeable'
The Scottish Police Federation, which represents officers in the country, has accused politicians of "offloading predictable problems" onto the police and said the hostility was "foreseeable".
Chairman David Hamilton said: "Police officers didn't write these health regulations but for the last year we have been asked to enforce them for the protection of all.
"Public hostilities towards the restrictions were foreseeable and have been growing for some time.
"They have increasingly culminated with some in our society taking out their anger and frustrations on police officers."
He added: "It is simply not good enough that politicians have offloaded these predictable problems onto police officers, especially when they have failed in their responsibility to protect and support those of whom they have asked so much."
'It doesn't feel safe'
Local Diane Gray, said "hordes of young people" have congregated at the Meadows on recent sunny days.
"I don't blame them for wanting to meet up, just wish they would be more responsible," she said.
Ms Gray said there had been problems with litter, including human waste, broken glass and "drug paraphernalia".
"Personally I am older/restricted mobility and I keep well away on days when it's busy because it doesn't feel safe," she added.
It’s a huge thank you to all the volunteers & council staff who cleaned up the meadows again last night. We need an action plan from the council, police, govt @ retailers to resolve the mess, violence, residential streets being used as a toilet & significant impact on local area. https://t.co/1AmfZK8yXz— Ian Murray MP (@IanMurrayMP) April 4, 2021
Edinburgh South MP Ian Murrary has called on police, council and government to "resolve the mess, violence, residential streets being used as a toilet and significant impact on local area".
He added: "It's a huge thank you to all the volunteers and council staff who cleaned up the Meadows again last night."
The incidents in Edinburgh follow similar scenes in parks in England earlier in the week.
On Wednesday, two parks in Nottingham were closed and alcohol was banned in the green spaces.
It came after shocking footage emerged of a large crowd of students ignoring social distancing rules and fighting in the Arboretum in Nottingham.
An illegal rave outside the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff also led to arrests after hundreds gathered in an atmosphere described as "like a nightclub".
In Edinburgh, investigations are ongoing are ongoing and police have asked "anyone who saw a 22-year-old man being attacked around 7.30pm in the Middle Meadow Walk area and also a 17-year-old man being seriously injured in the park around 6.40pm, to come forward".
Anyone with information or footage is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident 1635 of 3 April, 2021. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.