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Tackling pyrotechnic misuse at football

Expert group to consider current legislation.

The law surrounding the misuse of pyrotechnics at football will be the focus of a new short-life working group set up by the Scottish Government. 

The group will consider the evidence on, and possible barriers to, the use of Football Banning Orders as a penalty for pyrotechnic possession and misuse.

It is already a criminal offence to take or try to take a pyrotechnic into football matches, while carrying pyrotechnics in public without a reasonable excuse was recently made an offence through the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022. The Act gives police powers to stop and search someone where they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person may be in possession of a pyrotechnic in a public place.

Football Banning Orders (FBOs) can be imposed by a Court for up to ten years for violent offences at matches, which could include throwing a lit pyrotechnic as a weapon. The working group will consider if extending the scope of FBOs would be an effective way to further deter the carrying and misuse of pyrotechnics at football.  

The expert working group includes representation from the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and Scottish Football Association, Football Safety Officers Association, Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and is expected to report next year.

Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown recently said: 

“Everyone should be able to enjoy the excitement and atmosphere of a football match without the fear of serious injury from pyrotechnics.

“We have considerably strengthened pyrotechnic laws, and those who carry fireworks and pyrotechnics in public and into football stadia can face fines and up to six months in prison. Despite this, pyrotechnic misuse at football matches remains an issue.

“We have been working closely with football’s governing authorities and with police on what more can be done to stop this antisocial and dangerous behaviour at football matches.

“Football Banning Orders of up to 10 years, are already an effective measure courts have at their disposal to deal with violent behaviour and I have asked this working group to consider whether extending their reach would be a further deterrent to pyrotechnic possession and misuse.

“Consisting of representatives from football and the justice sector, their review will also take views from clubs, fan groups, as well as front-line services.” 

Calum Beattie Chief Operating Officer of the SPFL, recently said:

“The dangers of pyrotechnics in crowded football stadia are significant and our clubs are keen to work with the Scottish Government, police and the courts to find meaningful ways of tackling this growing problem.

“Recent surveys have also shown that most fans believe there is no place for these devices at games. We are looking forward to playing an active role in this group to examine further how football banning orders can form part of a package of deterrence for any fans tempted to smuggle these dangerous items into grounds.”

Superintendent Chris Stewart of Police Scotland recently said:

"The public have the right to feel safe when they attend football matches and we work with a range of partners, including the clubs, to make sure these events are safe and secure. We will engage with the review and support partners involved."   


Membership of the group, which can also consider other issues with FBOs as it sees fit, is made up of representation from the Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Football Association, Football Safety Officers Association, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland, British Transport Police, Scottish Government.

More information on the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022

More information on Football Banning Orders


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