Fireworks warning as new law bans them from certain areas in Scotland

POSTED ON June 22, 2023 BY James Garry

Councils will be able to ban the use of fireworks in designated areas as a new law comes into force

Councils can now designate Firework Control Zones that would make it a criminal offence to ignite a firework, or knowingly throw a lit firework in a zone which can include private properties or gardens. The maximum penalties are a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months in prison.

Organised public firework displays will still be permitted within zones to allow people to enjoy fireworks safely, the Scottish government said.

The provisions are one of the key measures from the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Act 2022, passed by the Scottish Parliament last June.

Legislation making it a criminal offence for anyone to supply fireworks or other pyrotechnic articles to a child or person under 18 is already in place under the Act since last October 10.

Attacks on emergency workers using fireworks or pyrotechnics also became aggravating factors that can be taken into account when courts sentence offenders.

Police Scotland Chief Inspector Nicola Robison said: “Fireworks Control Zones allow local authorities the power to designate areas where fireworks cannot be possessed or set off and ultimately restricts the improper use of such items in Scotland.

“It is a criminal offence to be in possession of, or setting off, fireworks within a Fireworks Control Zone and I would urge all members of the public to be aware of designated zones within their local area to ensure they are not in breach of the legislation.

“Police Scotland is committed to keeping the public safe from the risk of harm associated with the reckless and criminal use of fireworks and we welcome the addition of Fireworks Control Zones within Scotland.”

Although Police Scotland reported fewer incidents last year over the bonfire night period, a number of officers and other emergency services workers were targeted with fireworks.

Police Scotland introduced a policing plan under the name Operation Moonbeam in 2018 in response to significant public disorder and anti-social behaviour linked to fireworks and pyrotechnics. This had included targeted attacks on the blue light services responding to emergency calls during the fireworks night period.

Minister for Victims and Community Safety, Siobhian Brown, said: “Evidence and engagement with communities shows strong public support for tougher action on fireworks, which along with other pyrotechnic articles can cause harm, serious injury and distress to people, pets and the wider community.

“Giving local authorities additional powers to create Firework Control Zones, with input from the local community, marks a significant step in tackling the issues caused by fireworks, which are dangerous when used inappropriately.

“This change to the law demonstrates our absolute commitment to further improve public safety and wellbeing for our communities.”

Review Group member, and director of Innovation and Strategic Relations at the Scottish SPCA, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, added: “We warmly welcome introduction of Firework Control Zones. The restrictions are much needed to prevent unnecessary suffering among pets, farm animals and wildlife. They will help to alleviate distress caused by fireworks and also prevent any firework debris that can be harmful to, or ingested by, animals.”

Firework Control Zones are part of a suite of complimentary measures being introduced by the Scottish government aimed at encouraging the safe and appropriate use of fireworks. Earlier this month, new offences came into force to tackle the risk to public safety caused by the misuse of pyrotechnics.

It is now illegal for members of the public to possess pyrotechnics in a public place, as well as at any sporting or live music events with more than 1,000 people attending, without a reasonable excuse.

The creation of Firework Control Zones was included in recommendations made to the Scottish government by the independent Firework Review Group alongside limiting the quantity of fireworks which can be sold and restricting the times of day when fireworks can be used in public .

These recommendations have already been progressed through primary and secondary legislation, with a programme of work underway to implement the remaining measures.

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