This year, the biggest Fifth November event in the world resulted in more than 80 casualties, with six needing hospital treatment.
More than 30,000 people took to the narrow streets of Lewes on Thursday night to commemorate the failure of the gunpowder plot. But by the time the event was finished, 82 people were injured. The six that required hospital treatment were not serious, but did include an eye injury, hand injury and leg injury.
There was a high police presence throughout the night, although they were soon overwhelmed by crowds; spectators broke through barriers during breaks in the parade and fire crackers and bangers were let off just feet away from the public, with shells hitting the legs and faces of those watching.
(A Large number of people on the narrow streets of Lewes, could this
be the reason for many of the injuries?)
Numbers of injuries are down on 2014; the South East Coast Ambulance and St John’s Ambulance dealt with 127 casualties, with 14 requiring hospital treatment last year. There were also 18 fewer arrests made, with Sussex Police only making five this year for drug possession, criminal damage, and being drunk and disorderly. It is unclear whether the reason for the drop in incidents is due to better health and safety measures, or because of the smaller crowd; bad weather meant the event attracted 10,000-15,000 fewer people this year.
Lewes Bonfire Council leave responsibility of personal safety to the individual, making it very clear that they follow a ‘volenti non fit injuria’ policy. In other words, attendance is viewed as acceptance of any level of potential injury.
Highlights of this year’s celebration included a world record-breaking 50ft-tall Guy, as well as effigies of Jeremy Clarkson, Sepp Blatter and - perhaps most memorably - a scantily clad David Cameron holding a pig. Not limited to being controversial for it’s level of injury, Lewes Bonfire Night has also built itself a reputation for its satirical humour; last year Sussex Police were forced to investigate after a number of complaints were made over Alex Salmond effigies.
Despite casualties, Lewes Bonfire Night continues to attract people of all ages, and shows no sign of slowing down yet.