Every year people in residential areas around the island have to put up with Easter bonfires and firecrackers at all times of the night, and every year police say they are run ragged trying to keep up.
They promise more patrols and more clampdowns and hold more meetings in the days leading up to Easter. Yet nothing seems to change. In fact, it seems to be getting worse every year.
Most people would probably be willing to put up with both behaviours once a year on Easter Saturday night, maybe, even though they are illegal. But the culprits increasingly start their shenanigans weeks before Easter, which is a holiday that is being used now as an excuse for bad behaviour. There used to be an actual tradition behind the Easter bonfire, no matter how outdated and ridiculous it was even in the religious context. It happened once a year and it was over.
But now someone could be driving through Pervolia on a random Wednesday night, weeks before Easter and see a group of youths sitting around a bonfire quite relaxed in chairs on an empty plot of land. They might well ask where are the police are or how long it takes to drive around Pervolia to run a check? When these teens feel they can just light a fire with impunity and without fear of a patrol car coming by, something is wrong.
According to police there were 45 illegal bonfires recorded in March, only in the Limassol district. Limassol police spokesperson Marinos Vassiliou said that a special team consisting of 15 police officers had been set up to start checking ‘sensitive areas’ that saw incidents during the Easter period in past years.
Police have also confiscated more than 400,000 firecrackers in recent months. They do try to do the rounds of schools to explain to young people the dangers of using explosives but there will always be groups of teens who won’t listen, at least until they lose a few fingers, a hand or an eye.
We might feel like saying serves them right but it is not only themselves they put in danger. Last year a person walking to an Easter service was hit and injured by someone throwing a firecracker into the churchyard. The perpetrators are almost never caught because by the time police come, they’ve scattered. As usual, it will unfortunately take a death to prompt stronger action.
Police say they can’t be everywhere all the time. Ok, so where is the army of drones fitted with cameras and night vision that can cover a lot more ground than a patrol car and a handful of officers? What’s the point of living in an age of technology when police talk about sending out a team of 15 officers to cover an entire district. Clearly these youths do not fear police patrols in the slightest. Perhaps the chance of having their picture taken by a police drone might make them think twice.