Firework Review Group minutes: 17 September 2020

Minutes from the fourth meeting of the Firework Review Group, held on 17 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Alasdair Hay, Chair
  • Alasdair Perry, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • Andy Hubble, British Pyrotechnics Association (on behalf of Cliff Stonestreet)
  • Eleanor Robertson, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Fraser Stevenson, British Fireworks Association
  • Gilly Mendez Ferreira, Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Graham Shand, Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (on behalf of Christopher Bell)
  • Hazel Scott, Police Scotland (on behalf of Tim Ross)
  • Gillian McNaught, Glasgow City Council
  • Josh Box, Scottish Community Safety Network (on behalf of Lorraine Gillies)
  • Michelle Kirkbright, Community Representative (on behalf of Alison Kerr)
  • Mike Callaghan, CoSLA

Scottish Government

  • Eilidh Smith, Building Safer Communities
  • Elinor Findlay, Building Safer Communities
  • Hollie Gibson, Building Safer Communities
  • Kim Hunter, Building Safer Communities


  • Alison Kerr, Community Representative
  • Cliff Stonestreet, British Pyrotechnics Association
  • Donna Baillie, Scottish Ambulance Service
  • Kathleen Robertson, British Veterinary Association
  • Jim Wilson, Veterans Scotland
  • Willie Black, Community Representative

Items and actions


  • Alasdair Hay opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending the sixth meeting of the Group and welcomed those attending their first meeting.
  • Alasdair asked the Group to agree the minutes from the previous meeting and noted that members could contact the secretariat if they had any further comments.

Action Plan Update

  • Eilidh Smith gave an update on the progress of the non-legislative actions outlined in the Fireworks Action Plan:
    • Public Awareness Campaigns: both campaigns are progressing well. Core messaging and ’call to action’ have been agreed with key partners. A campaign planning meeting with local areas involved in the ‘Rules and Regulations’ campaign with Crimestoppers will take place on 29th August to discuss and agree campaign material. Both campaigns are due to launch on 15th October.
    • Point of Sale Guidance: With thanks to Eleanor, Fraser and Graham for providing helpful comments on draft leaflets and posters, design and content has been finalised and will be shared with the Group at the next meeting. Distribution routes have been agreed to retailers ahead of fireworks being available to public.
    • Youth Schemes: SFRS has developed a module on fireworks misuse and considerations are being made to ensure the modules can be monitored for progress and impact. Gilly has been involved in creating online resources for primary and secondary schools to be used in the general curriculum to educate away from fireworks misuse.
  • A number of questions and points were raised during the update:
    • Gilly explained the online resource is aimed at children in primary or secondary school and Education Scotland have confirmed the resources can be included a part of the school curriculum for excellence. The material is due to be available within schools by the end of October 2020.
    • It was noted that the Rules and Regulations Campaign would complement Operation Moonbeam to help reduce anti-social behaviour around bonfire night.
    • Alasdair noted that these action compliment the work of the Review Group and create a comprehensive package of measures to drive forward change in how fireworks are used and sold in Scotland.

Fireworks Legislation and Regulation Enforcement

  • Elinor Findlay gave an overview of the current fireworks legislation and regulation enforcement. Elinor explained that this was still a working draft document but it should give a better insight into Trading Standards and Police Scotland’s enforcement responsibilities.
  • Graham noted that it would be helpful if the document included the Fireworks Regulations 2004 legal obligation for sellers to have an A3 sized poster on the premise that states it is illegal to sell to under 18’s and for under 18’s to have fireworks in public places.
  • Graham also noted the implications of current physical distancing restrictions on the work Trading Standards typically carry out.   
  • Hazel noted there may be a gap in legislation around stop and search powers for under 18’s.  Hazel also explained that the Police can search for drugs and/or weapons but there is a lack of possession charges for fireworks although noted that fireworks can, in some circumstances, come under the offensive weapons act or the explosives act.
  • A number of questions and points were raised during the update:
    • It was noted that the paper was helpful in understanding the current legislation and explained that SFRS are mindful of the storage of fireworks this year, particularly if there is less sales for organised displays.
    • Fraser explained that large display stock for large organised events is very different to the public consumer fireworks.  Fraser went onto explain that the industry would meet the demand and that retailers this year may choose to reduce their stock size accordingly. Fraser explained that organised displays, for example, scout groups and rotary clubs are only a small fraction of the business and that firework sales are mainly individuals buying for private use.
    • Eleanor asked for more clarity regarding the data collection of test purchasing for under ages sales. She also noted a potential gap in allowing all over 18’s to carry fireworks in public spaces and asked if this could be explored further. Hazel explained that after being set off fireworks can be classed under the explosives act or offensive weapons act. Fraser added that the legislation would end up very complicated and require many caveats, for example, individuals may be carrying fireworks home from a retailer.
    • Elinor mentioned that the Trading Standards survey which was undertaken as lockdown hit would be circulated to the Group, although noted that it would not provide a complete picture it would give the Group and accurate idea.

Action: Eilidh to add the additional legislation to the fireworks legislation enforcement document.

Action: Elinor to share Trading Standards survey results with the Group.

Benefits Mapping

  • Elinor noted that members broadly agreed at the last meeting that a fundamental shift is required in how fireworks are accessed and used through the introduction of a comprehensive set of measures. She explained that it is important for the Group to develop a set of parameters for each of these measures to provide more detail on what each of these measures might involve.  This would be discussed in the subgroups and fed back to the group.
  • Elinor noted the Group were moving into the next stage of the work programme to work up the changes that are recommended through a benefits / outcome mapping process.  She explained that benefits realisation process provides a systematic approach to identifying, tracking, realising, reviewing and communicating benefits before, during and after any change is implemented.
  • Elinor presented the Group two benefits map, the first map brings together all of the current non-legislative actions that are underway and planned alongside the recommendations for legislative and regulatory change proposed by the Group. The second map focusses on the legislative and  regulatory change that is being recommended
  • Elinor split the group into 3 sub-groups to discuss and agree the proposed benefits maps, and discuss and agree parameters for each measure as outlined in paper 2.

Sub-Group A

  • This group was chaired by Alasdair Hay and included: Hazel Scott, Fraser Stevenson, Michelle Kirkbright, Mike Callaghan.
  • The sub-group were broadly supportive of the initial parameters set out for each of the proposed legislative measures. The Group highlighted that, alongside these, the enforcement and resource implications need to be considered.
  • The Group discussed the fit and proper person test and the payment of a fee as mandatory conditions. Resourcing implications of enforcing such measures were highlighted.
  • The group went onto discuss retailers being required to go through safety briefings at point of sale with consumers, and give out a safety briefing leaflet as a part of the fireworks set. Fraser explained that the BFA would be supportive of this in all shops and specified that their shops follow this already and verify the type of firework that would be suitable for each individual.
  • The Group also discussed that restricting days and times may end up discriminating against and excluding diverse groups or cultures, as well as private celebrations such as weddings which may be adversely effected.  It was also noted that may affect the industry badly.
  • Fraser noted that restricting the time of day a firework could be bought would not be an issue. Fraser expressed that limiting this to coincide with the times fireworks can be set off would make more sense and questioned why someone would be buying fireworks at 2am as setting it off would be illegal at this time. It was noted that on certain dates such as New Year this might require an exemption as fireworks can be used legally for a longer period.
  • No firework zones – the adverse impact on individuals that use fireworks safely and sensibly was highlighted, as well as practical implications of defining the area/zones.

Sub-Group B

  • This sub-group was chaired by Elinor Findlay and included: Gillian McNaught, Andy Hubble, Josh Box and Alasdair Perry.
  • In relation to the parameters that accompany each recommendation, the Group broadly agreed with the level of detail that is included and that these are in line with previous discussion within the Group.  The potential impact of these measures on different population sub-groups was discussed and it was agreed it would be important to fully consider this from an equality impact perspective.
  • It was acknowledged that further more detailed work will be required to consider how each of these recommendations can be fully operationalised including who will have responsibility for enforcement. 
  • Industry representatives noted that the industry would fully support some of these measures, particularly around preventing the misuse of fireworks but emphasised again the need to focus on enforcing existing regulations.
  • Restricting the days and times fireworks can be set off could have a significant impact on the running of organised firework displays affecting both the industry as well as the long standing culture of people attending and enjoying such displays. 

Sub-Group C

  • This sub-group was chaired by Eilidh Smith and Hollie Gibson and included: Eleanor Robertson, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, and Graham Shand.
  • The Group were broadly supportive of the initial parameters set out for each of the proposed legislative measures. There was an understanding that more thinking and policy development is required to consider how these will practically work – with enforcement and resource implications of any controls progressed highlighted.
  • It was highlighted that the proposed measures and parameters set out at this stage aim to make the purchasing and use of fireworks a well thought out and planned activity rather than a spontaneous act.  The different measures will add steps to the process of purchasing fireworks that will cause a person to think and consider the purchase in more detail, and not get in the way of people having planned, safe and well thought out events.
  • An online module could also help people learn about the legislation and regulations around fireworks (such as distance requirements, times fireworks could be set off where people may not be aware that they are committing an offence) and be multi-faceted, covering various elements we want to make people aware of when it comes to using fireworks in a responsible way.
  • Suggestions around the specific measures that could be included as part mandatory conditions of sale were:  an online training module which people must engage with, knowledge based, answering questions and generating a QR code to be used to purchase fireworks once the module is passed, a permit system so that the person purchasing fireworks has met certain criteria to do so.  The current system around buying sheep dip was mentioned as it involves a system in place to make sure the potentially toxic and dangerous substance is purchased responsibly.  Goggles sold alongside fireworks were also highlighted as a potential specific measure.
  • It was recognised that this work is focussed on introducing measure and controls to make the private, consumer use of fireworks safer and more considerate to the impact made on the wider community. 
  • In terms of limiting the volume of fireworks sold, Graham checked the legislation around the storage of fireworks in a private residence and advised that up to 100kg can be stored if it is used in that place within 5 days.  At the moment, people can purchase 50kg of fireworks without any kind of licence.  This difference was highlighted by the Group, who considered that an individual should not be able to store double the amount of fireworks that they can purchase.  However, again the question of enforcement should a reduction in the legal storage amount be implemented was raised.
  • No firework zones – broadly supportive and agreed that these could empower communities that have previously experienced issues.  This may be something that could be part of the online module i.e. enter your postcode to find out where no firework zones are near you.
  • Proxy purchase offence – the Group agreed that this should be progressed as it is unclear what is currently classed as an offence.  The same offence already exists for tobacco and e-cigarettes so it was hoped it would not be too difficult to progress for this.
  • The Group struggled to see some of the detail on the main benefits map – and will access and look over this once the details are circulated after the meeting and may come back with further comments.
  • The Group felt that the maps captured discussions from previous meetings and felt it was clear to see what key concerns had driven those discussions.
  • The importance of ensuring that evaluation and monitoring is packaged into this at some point was highlighted.  It was considered very important to understand the impact that the different measures were having once put in place, but acknowledged that this is something that could be further in the process than the point we are at now.

Action: Any additional comments on the Benefits map to be sent to the secretariat team.

Next Steps and Closing Remarks

  • Alasdair rounded up discussions and thanked the group for their attendance. Alasdair again stressed that the work of the Group is time-bound and the recommendations to Ministers are due by end October 2020.
  • Alasdair reiterated that any unanswered questions could be sent to the secretariat team and that those who would like to comment on the papers from the meeting should send the comments to the secretariat team before the next meeting.
  • The next meeting will be held on 8th October 2020 via WebEx video conferencing.
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