There will be people in some parts of Scotland who are very relieved indeed that Bonfire Night is over for another year. People in the Niddrie area of Edinburgh for example, where the police faced young people armed with rockets and petrol bombs. Or Kirkton in Dundee where children as young as 10 were seen setting off fireworks. The fact that it is happening at all is shocking, but sadly it is no longer unusual. Bonfire Night has become the focus for dangerous and potentially deadly anti-social behaviour.

The obvious question is whether it’s all still worth it. Lots of us will have happy memories from childhood of bonfires, or Catherine wheels or sparklers in the back garden, but what happened this time couldn’t be further away from those happy memories of the past. This year, the police and firefighters in Niddrie faced around 100 youths who threw fireworks, injuring officers and causing considerable alarm in the community. Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said the disorder was unacceptable and unprecedented. It is getting worse.

There will be some who point out that the violence comes from a tiny minority and it is certainly true the vast majority of people enjoy Bonfire Night safely even if some might struggle to remember what the whole thing is supposed to be about. If they delved further into the history, many Scots might also feel uncomfortable at celebrating such an unpleasant and complicated event as the Gunpowder Plot. Famously, it was a Roman Catholic conspiracy to kill a Protestant King, James VI and I, but Guy Fawkes also had a particular hatred for a Scot sitting on the English throne. Asked during his interrogation why he needed so much gunpowder, Fawkes is said to have replied “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains”.

But even if we accept the Gunpowder Plot is still worth marking, we have to ask whether we can carry on as before. Not only has Bonfire Night become a focus, and a spark, for anti-social behaviour, the emergency services are being stretched to the limit. Police Scotland had to deploy hundreds of officers this year, and the Scottish Fire Service faced nine attacks on its crews. No firefighters were hurt but you have to wonder whether it’s only a question of time.

To its credit, the Scottish Government has sought to make things better by introducing measures to prevent the misuse of fireworks in public places. It is a criminal offence, for example, for anyone to supply fireworks to a child or person under 18. Courts are also required to take into consideration the use of fireworks as a possible aggravating factor in any attack on 999 crews. But the fact that such a large group of youths was able to get their hands on fireworks and use them against the police proves something is still not working with the law as it stands.

Understandably, some of the people whose communities have been affected are now asking if it means the time has come to ban the public sale of fireworks. The leader of Edinburgh council Cameron Day, for example, said that while he understood the argument that it would be unfair to punish the majority for the misbehaviour of a minority, the risk to life and the safety of emergency service workers meant it was now time to consider a ban. Although a complete ban would be a matter for the UK Government, the Scottish justice secretary Angela Constance has said she is open to discussion on the matter.

As with many other issues, it is unlikely that legislation would be a panacea for all of the factors that underlie public disorder such as the violence we saw in Niddrie. The former children and young people’s commissioner, Tam Baillie, suggested cuts to youth services could have been an issue in the incidents and he was right to raise the point. It means a ban on the sale of fireworks could reduce the risk of a repeat of this year, but it would not remove the risk of the disorder breaking out in other ways. It is no coincidence that the worst incidents are often in areas of deprivation.

However, we must accept what the evidence is telling us. Two groups of youths fighting and throwing fireworks at each other in Glasgow. Children setting off fireworks in Dundee. Police and firefighters targeted and the window of a fire engine smashed. And most disturbing of all: the violence in Niddrie, which was a repeat of disorder seen in the area last year. Year after year, we are seeing the same kind of incidents, so much so that in 2018 Police Scotland set up a special operation to deal with Bonfire Night chaos. It is a pattern that points inevitably to a ban on the public sale of fireworks.

For those who still love Bonfire Night and fear that a ban would spell the end of an old tradition, they should be reassured by the fact that public bonfires and displays – properly licensed, organised, and policed – could still go ahead. But the disorder we have seen in the last few days is likely to happen again without a change in the law; indeed, there’s every chance it could get worse.

Bonfire Night is undoubtedly an old and beloved institution for many people, and most of us still enjoy it without any harm being done. But the message from this year’s Bonfire Night is clear. The safety and security of our communities is what matter most. It is time the law was changed.