Arrests and dozens injured at historic Lewes bonfire night celebrations

Around 30,000 people descended on East Sussex town – dubbed the bonfire capital of the world – for annual event

Police arrested 14 people and 86 were injured as rival bonfire societies competed to put on the most dramatic display in the town of Lewes, East Sussex.

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Around 30,000 people descended on what has been dubbed the bonfire capital of the world, which saw six distinct processions from societies wind their way through the narrow streets of the town carrying torches, barrows and burning crosses.

Months of planning went into ensuring the event ran smoothly, but despite the organisers’ best efforts police advised there was inevitably “potential for incidents of criminal activity” when so many people gather in such an incendiary situation.

Two people were detained for throwing fireworks, while 12 were arrested for public order offences.

Of the 86 people who had to be treated by the South East Coast Ambulance Service, four were taken to hospital. Their injuries were not believed to be severe.

Fire crews were called out to deal with six incidents, among them an out of control bonfire – but by Lewes standards this was hailed as a quiet night.

Superintendent Laurence Taylo said: “The Lewes Bonfire continues to be an incredibly popular event. At public events of this size there is always the potential for incidents of criminal activity and anti-social behaviour.

“Around 18,000 people travelled into Lewes by train and officers from both British Transport Police and Sussex Police were on hand to help manage the crowds and minimise the risk of injuries and damage to property.

“I would particularly like to thank the stewards who worked really hard along the processional route and made sure there were no crowd issues resulting in people being injured.”

Organisers describe the event as having “deep historical significance”, commemorating Guy Fawkes and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot as well as the burning at the stake in Lewes of the Seventeen Martyrs from 1555-1557.

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