Summary of key themes
As noted through the analysis presented above, a number of key themes were raised by respondents, with those themes often recurring across their comments at a number of questions and at Question 3-6 and 10 in particular.
Views of those favouring more controls on the sale or use of fireworks or for a ban on sales to the public
Key themes to emerge from the further comments of those favouring more controls or ban were:
- General comments in support of a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public or on the general public having access to, and being able to use, fireworks.
- Frequent references to the harm fireworks can do, particularly in relation to pets, wildlife and livestock. There were particular references to dogs, cats and horses. Animal-related incidents and concerns often centred around the noise made by fireworks and the need to put in place special measures to keep animals, and especially pets in the home, safe and well. However, it was noted that anti-stress medication cannot be taken for prolonged periods and that most animals will not be afforded this type of protection.
- Associated concerns about the period over which fireworks may be released and that they are increasingly being used at any time of year, but in particular between October and January. The connection was sometimes made with the period over which fireworks are now on sale.
- Reports that fireworks are being used in places which respondents considered inappropriate, such as back gardens in built-up residential areas or near fields containing livestock.
- Concerns about fireworks being set off in locations where it is not legal to do so, such as in the street or other public places.
- Reports of indiscriminate or dangerous use of fireworks in public spaces were often connected with a perception that young people and children have no difficulties in accessing fireworks - either because they are being sold to them in shops/pop-up shops or because adults are buying and passing them on.
- The type of incidents respondents referred to included witnessing or hearing about fireworks being used as 'weapons' against the emergency services, seeing fireworks being thrown at cars or buses and reading about fireworks being used to injure/torture animals.
- A number of respondents referred to either themselves, family members or friends having been injured by fireworks, albeit some of these reports were historic. The resource implications for the NHS of caring for those with firework-related injuries were also noted.
- Respondents also commented that some types of people or people with particular experiences may find fireworks especially distressing or frightening. Examples given included people with PTSD, autistic people, people with mental health problems, people with dementia, people with learning disabilities, some older people and those with a sensory impairment.
- In terms of solutions other than a ban, respondents referred to allowing organised displays only, having a licensing or permit system for selling or purchasing, raising the age at which people can buy fireworks, reducing noise levels or only allowing silent fireworks and to increased penalties for misuse.
- On the latter theme of misuse, respondents often spoke of the need to enforce both current and any future legislation or regulation. This was sometimes associated with a view that the Police need to have a more visible presence within communities being affected by fireworks.
Views of those who did not favour more controls or a ban on sale to the public
Key themes to emerge from the further comments of those who did not favour more controls or a ban were:
- Concerns that a ban or further controls would represent a curtailment of freedom of choice and would be a 'nanny state' style solution to a relatively minor issue. There was also a view that it is neither fair nor reasonable to penalise the responsible majority for the actions of the irresponsible few.
- Pet owners need to take responsibility for the care and training of their animals, including ensuring that they become used to loud noises.
- There was also a view that the Scottish Government is listening to, or risks being swayed by, a small but vocal minority, included amongst them irresponsible pet owners who have not properly trained their animals.