What is Mischief Night and where did the ‘troublesome’ Liverpool tradition come from?
‘The Purge of The North’ sees violence and disorder terrify Merseyside residents.
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Although the Halloween period is a fun time of year for many, for the people of Merseyside, the lead up can be filled with dread, as Mischief Night looms.
In England, Mischief Night appears to be exclusive to the North West, though some parts of America also partake. Held on October 30, ‘Mizzy Night’, as it’s known in Liverpool, is thought to have begun as harmless tricks back in the 18th century.
However, it has now become a troublesome night for people across Merseyside, with cars and house windows being smashed with bricks, eggs being thrown, fireworks being let off in the street and aimed at people, plus other acts of vandalism.
It is not clear when the night transformed into the frightening tradition it has become, however, violent incidents have been occurring on Mischief Night for decades here on Merseyside.
Is Mischief Night still bad in Liverpool?
A recent Reddit post titled ‘Is Mischief Night still a thing?’ received a number of comments, with some stating the troublesome tradition is still causing problems, while others believe it ‘died out’ years ago.
Some people argued that the night is ‘not as widespread’ as it once was, while another noted that it is ‘one of the busiest nights of the year for the emergency services’.
Referred to as a ‘stupid horrible tradition’ by one Reddit user, another recalled ‘having a firework bounced off me head’ as a child. Previous Reddit posts on the topic also saw a user refer to mischief night as ‘The Purge in the North’.
Mischief Night incidents in recent years
While some local residents may not witness anti-social behaviour on Mischief Night, there have been a number of incidents reported in recent years.
Last year, Merseyside Police reported fireworks and bricks being launched at police vehicles, and teenagers arrested on suspicion of violent disorder. Dispersal zones were also put in place on Halloween last year, in Sefton, Wirral, Liverpool and Knowsley following reports of antisocial behaviour and criminal damage on Mischief Night.
In a statement at the time, Merseyside Police said: “As we would expect at this time of year we received a number of calls relating to antisocial behaviour and criminal damage. The throwing of fireworks towards people, or targeting of properties with fireworks, reckless to the extreme and could have easily led to serious or fatal consequences.”
Troubling incidents were also reported in 2021, with Merseyside Police receiving total of 785 emergency calls and 520 non-emergency calls came in during a police operation on Mischief Night. However, the force did note this was a 52% decrease on the year prior.
Should Mischief Night be banned?
Whether or not you believe Mischief Night is as bad as it was in previous years, locals are still calling for the tradition to be banned, with a number of people telling LiverpoolWorld it causes ‘nothing but trouble’.
However, a ‘ban’ is not as simple as it sounds, as it is not an official public holiday and Merseyside Police already condemn the ‘reckless behaviour’ often seen on the night.
Merseyside Police warning
In a new statement this week, Merseyside Police said Dispersal Zones will be put in place in Sefton, Wirral, Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens ‘if for any reason there are reports of antisocial behaviour and criminal damage’ throughout the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.
A spokesperson added that ‘damage caused from throwing eggs and flour, or any objects at windows, doors, cars and people is a criminal offence’.
Commander for the policing operation, Chief Inspector Duncan Swan said: “As you will know Halloween and Bonfire Night are always a busy period for all the emergency services because of small of number of young people who tend to act in an anti-social and irresponsibly manner.
“Mindless acts such as throwing or attempting to light fireworks in public, and throwing objects at houses, cars and shops can have devastating or even fatal consequences. We will have extra high-visibility police officers patrolling neighbourhoods during this time, and if necessary dispersal orders will be put in place to protect people from any harm.
“Residents can also take some simple steps to prevent incidents such as bringing your wheelie bin in to prevent them being set them alight, which can have devastating or fatal consequences. However it is not all doom and gloom, as for the past two years we have seen a reduction in the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage across Merseyside.”
Chief Inspector Swan continued: “I would appeal to young people to please think about your actions and the consequences of any reckless behaviour might have on others, particularly elderly people, and just imagine if it was your nan or grandad that was feeling frightened? No one should have to suffer or be a victim of anti-social behaviour.
“We do want young people to enjoy themselves, but in a responsible way and urge you to attend organised events and bonfire displays and activities taking place in your area so that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time without any incidents occurring.
“We would urge parents and guardians to know where your child is, what they are up to and friends they are with. This is to ensure they are not causing unnecessary distress to residents in the area, but also for your child’s own safety and welfare.”