This year, the biggest Fifth November event in the world resulted in nearly 100 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. Although the six that required hospital treatment were not serious, an eye injury was amongst the casualties.
Despite a visibly high police presence throughout the night, crowds soon became overwhelming. Spectators broke through barriers and fire crackers and bangers were let off just feet away from the spectators, with shells hitting the legs and faces of those watching.
Numbers of injuries are down on 2014. Last year, the South East Coast Ambulance and St John’s Ambulance dealt with 127 casualties, with 14 requiring hospital treatment. There were also 18 fewer arrests made, with Sussex Police only making five this year for reasons of drug possession, criminal damage, and being drunk and disorderly.
It is possible that a smaller crowd caused the drop in reported incidents; a relatively poor turnout due to 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 on their website that they follow a ‘volenti non fit injuria’ policy. In other words, if you attend the event, you accept 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 injuries, 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.
The event always secures a big turnout, and celebratory onlookers explained:
‘There is a massive crowd and it’s just a really good atmosphere’
‘We came here last year. We loved it, and decided to come back this year.’
Despite casualties, Lewes Bonfire Night sustains its reputation for being a Fifth of November to remember.