Firework Review Group minutes: 8 October 2020

Minutes from the fourth meeting of the Firework Review Group, held on 8 October 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Alasdair Hay, Chair
  • Alasdair Perry, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • Andy Hubble, British Pyrotechnics Association (on behalf of Cliff Stonestreet)
  • Christopher Bell, Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland
  • Donna Baillie, Scottish Ambulance Service
  • Eleanor Robertson, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Fraser Stevenson, British Fireworks Association
  • Gilly Mendez Ferreira, Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Gillian McNaught, Glasgow City Council
  • Jim Wilson, Veterans Scotland
  • Kathleen Robertson, British Veterinary Association
  • Lorraine Gillies, Scottish Community Safety Network
  • Michelle Kirkbright, Community Representative (on behalf of Alison Kerr)
  • Tim Ross, Police Scotland
  • Willie Black, Community Representative

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
  • Mike Callaghan, CoSLA

Items and actions


  • Alasdair Hay opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending the seventh meeting of the Group and welcomed those in attendance.
  • 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.

Bonfire Night 2020 Planning

  • Eilidh Smith gave an overview of bonfire night planning for this year, stating that all planning will be line with the current Scottish Government Guidance in relation to Covid19. She noted that current Scottish Government events guidance does not permit outdoor focussed standing events, which includes the type of fireworks displays that typically take place around bonfire night.
  • Most locally organised firework displays have already taken the decision not to go ahead as planned and, to date, she is only aware of a few displays that will take place: a ‘drive-in’ display in Perthshire and a virtual display event with attendees watching online in Aberdeen.
  • Eilidh noted that Scottish Government is working closely with Police Scotland, SFRS and local authorities to support the processes being put in place to ensure a safe bonfire season, particularly in light of the lack of organised displays; and have written to all community safety partnerships to offer additional support to complement the work underway locally through the annual Crimestoppers fireworks/bonfire campaign which will improve awareness of the existing rules and regulations.
  • Eilidh explained that supporting the preventative work ongoing at a local and national level, the Scottish Government is launching three public awareness raising and safety campaigns which the Group will be familiar with through previous updated:
    • Impact of Fireworks Campaign –nationwide campaign, launching on 26 October, to improve people’s awareness and understanding of the impact that fireworks can have on people and animals. The campaign encourages people considering using fireworks to think about the impact on others before purchasing fireworks and to follow the Fireworks Code. The campaign will also highlight the appropriate SG Covid19 related guidance.
    • Rules and Regulations Campaign - in partnership Crimestoppers, supported by Police Scotland and local communities, this campaign – launched 15th October - is focussed on areas with higher levels of fireworks misuse.  This campaign aims to improve people’s understanding of the existing rules and regulations and improving understanding of how and when to report the misuse of fireworks. The campaign material was shared with the Group.
    • Point of Sale Guidance - provides safety information and advice to consumers when they are buying fireworks within retail outlets and focusses on both the safe and appropriate use of consumer fireworks. The finalised leaflet design was shared with the Group, which will be distributed to individuals purchasing fireworks from participating retailers from 15th October.
    • Eilidh noted the campaigns include the relevant Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance as part of the key messaging.
  • Hollie Gibson provided an overview of the range of preventative work being undertaken at a local level and explained that all local authorities had been contacted, with an offer of support in the lead up to Bonfire night through the Crimestoppers Campaign. Hollie gave the group a flavour of the local plans in: Edinburgh; Aberdeen; Ayrshire; Renfreshire; Argyll and Bute; and, Shetland.
  • A number of questions and points were raised during the update:
    • Lorraine Gillies asked whether the Scottish Government would be circulating the details of local plans with Police Scotland to assist National Planning. Elinor confirmed that local planning details will be shared and noted the Minister would be meeting Police and SFRS Gold Commanders to discuss national planning ahead of Bonfire Night.
    • Alasdair Perry gave an overview of the work of the preventative work underway ahead of bonfire night, which included a thematic action plan to be provided to prepare local teams, schools and other interested parties for bonfire night, and local uplift events to ensure that there is not widely available materials to create bonfires. SFRS has a communications plan set up alongside a ‘call to action’ for the public to check the Fireworks Code. They will provide safety messaging over social media, leaflets and posters to raise awareness as well broadcasting messages recorded by youth volunteers. SFRS will be supporting external organisations including Fearless, and Youthlink Scotland as well as the Scottish Government campaigns. SFRS are also an integral part of Operation Moonbeam, which will also be going ahead this year.
      • Fraser highlighted an error on the SFRS leaflet and website which Alasdair confirmed had been updated.  Alasdair offered to speak to Fraser in more detail regarding any additional changes.  
      • Fraser noted that he was disappointed that enforcement agencies had not proactively consulted with the BFA when developing their firework campaigns and messaging, and noted the industry would like to assist and support future campaigns going forward.  
    • Gilly Mendez Ferreira gave an overview of preventative work underway by SSPCA ahead of bonfire night this year. Gilly shared the online educational module on fireworks that has been developed with partners for use in schools. The module contains an infographic, videos, key messaging such as stay safe and be responsible, and interactive games including hazard perception and a quiz. Gilly explained the evaluation process being put in place which includes survey for users which will be completed before and after use. The module will go out to schools on the 28th October in preparation for bonfire night.
      • Jim Wilson asked if it would be possible to update the wording referencing ‘veterans with PTSD’ to ‘people with PTSD’. Gilly confirmed that it would be updated before the release.
      • Willie Black noted he would like to include details of the education resource in the newsletter for the north of Edinburgh he is involved in producing, along with his willingness to share details of the additional campaigns ahead of Bonfire night
    • Kathleen Robertson notified the Group of her forthcoming publication regarding animal welfare around bonfire night in the Press and Journal.   Kathleen also relayed concern that vet practices are already under more pressure than usual due to the Covid-19 backlog and that bonfire night will add additional pressure for appointments for access to medication to combat firework distress.
    • Tim Ross updated the preventative plans being put in place by Police Scotland ahead bonfire night at a National level and noted that Operation Moonbeam, the multi-agency approach to tackle and reduce firework related incidents over Bonfire night were in place again for this year.

Final Reporting

  • Alasdair thanked the Group for their feedback on the benefits map and explained the next step is drafting the Final Report.
  • Elinor Findlay outlined the proposed structure and process that will be followed to draft and finalise the final report of the Review Group ensuring all members are able to fully input into the process.
  • Elinor explained it is important for the final report to adequately reflect the deliberations of the Review Group and the evidence that has been gathered and considered as part of this process, while at the same time following a simple and easy to read structure and approach.  It will also be important for the report to set out clearly the recommendations flowing from the work of the Group and clearly link this to the available evidence.
  • Elinor provided detailed the proposed draft structure and timescales for drafting and finalising the report.
  • A number of questions and points were raised during the update:
    • Kathleen asked if the environmental impact of fireworks would be mentioned in the report. Eleanor Robertson highlighted a study regarding particulates released by fireworks in Scotland.
    • Tim noted it would be beneficial to detail the legislation and sentencing options. Gilly and Fraser also expressed an interest in having a section on penalties to highlight the current penalties to act as a deterrent. Fraser also noted that the BFA would value an increased prosecution rate for fireworks misuse, as this is a major concern for the industry.
    • Willie expressed concern in introducing legislation or restrictions which would criminalise young people. He also noted that fireworks are dangerous and in some circumstances, prosecution is important.
    • Fraser questioned a perceived reluctance to prosecute criminals and not hold them accountable for their actions, and questioned why - if there is a reluctance to enforce the current legislation - what would be the benefit of adding more. Fraser emphasised that this would negatively affect those abiding by the law and it would not affect the criminals.
    • Gillian and Fraser asked if details of the current prosecution rates could be shared with the group.  Elinor noted that crown statistics would be included in the final report and shared with the Group.

Action: Draft report to be circulated to the Group for comments on Friday 16th October.

Action: Members to provide feedback on the draft report by close of play on Wednesday 21st October.

Action: Final Draft with incorporated comments to be shared with the Group for final comments on Friday 23rd October.

Action: Group to sign off final report at final meeting on 27th October.

Next Steps and Closing Remarks

  • Alasdair rounded up discussions and thanked the Group for their attendance. He stressed that the work of the Group is time-bound as recommendations to Ministers are due by end October 2020.
  • Alasdair concluding by noting any further comments or questions can be sent to the secretariat.
  • The next meeting will be held on 27th October 2020 via WebEx video conferencing.
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