Sovereign Base Area Police officials in both the Eastern and Western SBAs have released their annual warning to residents about being mindful of the illegal and potentially lethal use of bangers which is expected to peak over the coming weeks.
In the build-up to Easter Sunday, which falls on April 28, community police officers have already started visiting local schools to warn young children and youths about the dangers of using “homemade pipe bombs” in order to try to limit the dangers.
The SBA Police have placed huge emphasis on the safety message in previous years and they have enjoyed a great deal of success in reducing the number of reported incidents.
But despite the message making an impact within the community it serves, the police remain determined to continue seeing such positive results.
Working in conjunction with the Cyprus Police Ammunition Squad, SBA Police officers are making their presence felt once again and according to Superintendent Andreas Pitsillides, the campaign has been hugely successful already, despite being three weeks out from Easter.
He explained: “Every year the SBA Police conducts an education campaign in local schools so we can highlight the dangers of using these illegal fireworks and after a few early incidents in years gone by, we have been determined to ensure there was no repeat and I am very happy to say, that has been the case more recently.”
The use of Easter bangers or homemade pipe bombs, have become a dangerous ‘tradition’ on the island at Easter time and according to Superintendent Pitsillides, the police, supported by colleagues from CyPol, have been forced to use scare-tactics in order to get the message through.
He explained: “This is of course a very dangerous situation and every year there are reports of children seriously injuring themselves with these devices. We work closely with CyPol ammunitions experts who support our efforts by showing the students exactly what can happen by throwing these explosives.
“Sometimes shock-tactics are what is required to get the message through and hopefully by seeing the potential consequences of their actions, we will be able to prevent children from seriously injuring themselves, or others.”
Superintendent Pitsillides also highlighted the importance of the relationship between the SBA Police and the community leaders, including church groups.
He went on: “We have conducted spot-checks within the local communities in close liaison with the leaders and they have also taken responsibility for the bonfires to ensure the youths act responsibly and the number of fires being lit don’t get out of control because we simply cannot police that many.
“It is important that we have good relations with the church too because much of the activity around Easter is obviously centred around those areas and that is where people throw these explosive devices and accidents can easily happen.
“Our excellent relationship allows us to do that and by working so closely together we can ensure that everyone enjoys the Easter period in the safest possible manner.”
In previous years, as the police tighten have tightened its grip on the distribution of the explosives, there have been attempts to bring them over the crossing points from the north of Cyprus.
But according to the Superintendent, the police are prepared for this, he concluded: “We are very active on the crossing points and we will be running intelligence-led operations alongside our partners to catch any person attempting to bring these ‘fireworks’ in before Easter.
“As always, when they are caught, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”achers during the exercise and he was quick to say: “It was great to be out on the ground seeing British Forces Cyprus troops from the 2 Royal Anglians working alongside the Egyptian Armed Forces on Exercise Ahmose.”