Making fireworks safer
Criminal offence to supply fireworks and pyrotechnics to under 18s.
New powers to enforce the safe use of fireworks are to come into force.
Legislation making it a criminal offence for anyone to supply fireworks or other pyrotechnic articles to a child or person under 18 comes into effect on 10 October.
From the same date, attacks on emergency workers using fireworks or pyrotechnics will also become aggravating factors that can be taken into account when courts sentence offenders. The measures are set out in the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022 passed by the Scottish Parliament on 29 June.
The key powers are being brought into force in advance of Bonfire Night and build on steps taken last year restricting the times fireworks can be used, when they can be bought, and the quantity. Work is progressing to enact other powers set out in the Act, including the introduction of a fireworks licensing system, with mandatory safety training, for people wishing to purchase and use fireworks, and introducing powers for local authorities to designate firework control zones.
Community Safety Minister Ash Regan said:
“These important new powers have been delivered at pace and make it a criminal offence for anyone to supply fireworks or other pyrotechnic articles to a child or person under age 18.
“Fireworks in the wrong hands can cause serious, life-changing injuries or even prove lethal. Preventing their supply - in any way - to under 18s is a wholly welcome step which will bring greater public safety across Scotland.
“It’s also extremely important swift work has progressed which will see hard-working and brave 999 crews - who work tirelessly to keep us all safe - better protected.
“Any attack on fire, ambulance and police crews is utterly despicable so ensuring courts are required to take into consideration the use fireworks or pyrotechnics as a possible aggravating factor in any attack on 999 crews is a real deterrent to such vile behaviour.
“Work is now progressing to see other provisions set out in the ground-breaking legislation brought into force. These are essential steps which demonstrate our absolute commitment to improving the safety of communities across Scotland.”
Chief Inspector Nicola Robison from Police Scotland’s Partnerships, Preventions and Community Wellbeing Division, said:
“Fireworks, when not used lawfully, present a significant risk to the public and so preventing such items from being purchased by, or for, anyone under the age of 18, is vitally important for keeping communities safe.
“Buying fireworks for underage youths can result in a £5,000 fine, six-months imprisonment, or both and our message is clear. Do not risk it. Help us prevent disorder, damage and violence over the Bonfire Night period.
“The new aggravator for attacks on emergency service workers is also a welcome legislative change and should give all frontline first responders additional reassurance that their safety and wellbeing is paramount as they go about their duties.”
The new under-18 proxy purchase and supply and emergency worker attack aggravator offences come into effect on 10 October 2022.
These further legislative changes build upon regulations that came into force last year which:
- restrict the times of day fireworks can be used by the general public to between 6pm and 11pm, with the exception of 5 November (when they can be used from 6pm until midnight), Hogmanay, the night of Chinese New Year and the night of Diwali (when they can be used from 6pm until 1am)
- restrict the times of day fireworks can be supplied to the general public to during the daytime hours of 7am and 6pm, alongside existing requirements on retailers around sale and storage licences
- limit the quantity of fireworks that can be supplied to the general public to 5kg at any one time
The passage of the Bill saw extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement with the legislation receiving strong backing from a coalition of professional medical bodies who described it as an “historic achievement” and “a major step forward for injury prevention in the community”.
A consultation last year, ahead of the Bill’s introduction, further demonstrated strong desire for change. Analysis of the 2021 consultation responses showed 92% of respondents agreed with the introduction of a 'proxy purchasing' offence in relation to fireworks to criminalise the supply of fireworks to young people under the age of 18.
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