Firework Review Group minutes: January 2020

Minutes from the second meeting of the Firework Review Group, held on 16 January 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Alasdair Hay, Chair
  • Alison Kerr, Community Action Blackburn
  • Alasdair Perry, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • Christopher Bell, Edinburgh City Council
  • Donna Baillie, Scottish Ambulance Service
  • Eleanor Robertson, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Fraser Stevenson, British Firework Association
  • Gillian McNaught, Glasgow City Council
  • Gilly Mendes Ferreira, Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Jim Wilson, Veterans Scotland (left after agenda item 4)
  • John Laidlaw, 21 CC (on behalf of British Pyrotechnics Association)
  • Kathleen Robertson, British Veterinary Association
  • Lorraine Gillies, Scottish Community Safety Network (SCSN)
  • Mike Callaghan, CoSLA
  • Tim Ross, Police Scotland
  • Willie Black, West Pilton & West Granton Community Council (left after agenda item 4)

Also in attendance

  • Geoff Crow, 21CC
  • Lisa Haggarty, Community Action Blackburn

Scottish Government

  • Elinor Findlay, Building Safer Communities
  • Eilidh Smith, Building Safer Communities
  • Gordon Paterson, Building Safer Communities
  • Isobel Joiner, Scottish Government Legal Department
  • Kim Hunter, Building Safer Communities


  • Cliff Stonestreet, British Pyrotechnics Association

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

Alasdair Hay opened the meeting and thanked the group for attending the second meeting of the Review Group; and brief introductions were made around the table.

Alasdair reemphasised the important work the Group is taking forward and the tight timescales in which it is required to deliver its recommendations.

Alasdair went through the minutes from the first meeting, and the Group agreed these were an accurate reflection of the discussion that took place. 

Action Plan Update

Eilidh gave an overview of the commitments outlined in the Firework Action Plan around the 3 main themes of: awareness raising and communication; support to publically organised displays; and support to local communities.  Eilidh provided an update of the five key projects that are being taken forward which are all in the early stages of development, and outlined the project aims, objectives and milestones for each.  The following points were raised during the subsequent discussion:

Point of Sale Guidance

  • Eleanor suggested that a ‘checklist’ approach could be useful for developing the  Point of Sale guidance which could focus on guiding users in a sequential step by step fashion.  It was noted that this approach has worked for other products and industries (e.g. airline industry).   
  • Christopher highlighted the potential issue of ‘information overload’ and explained that instructions on the safe use of fireworks are already included on firework products.  The Group agreed that it will be important to ensure the information developed for Point of Sale strikes the right balance between providing adequate and useful information for users, and avoiding repeating information that is already available. 
  • Eilidh mentioned that the next step for this project is to take forward discussion with SG marketing colleagues, and any interested members of the Review Group, to begin developing content and material. 

Action: BSC team to set up meeting with SG marketing colleagues, Fraser and Christopher. 

Firework Display Guidance

  • When discussing the Fireworks Display Guidance Elinor noted that this is intended to provide a high level guide for community groups and organisations about the processes that need to be followed when setting up a display, and would sign post to other guidance that exists as appropriate. 
  • Fraser mentioned examples of guidance already available including from the Explosives Industry Group.
  • Willie asked that consideration is given the terms used (e.g. community group) and that clear definitions are provided.  The importance of clearly defining ‘public’ and ‘private’ displays was also raised. 
  • Alison noted that not all communities would want to, or be in the financial position to, put on community firework displays. It was emphasised the guidance being developed is to help those communities and groups who have identified that they would like to do so, and that this would not apply across all communities in Scotland. 

Action: Lorraine to send on information on guidance developed in Republic of Ireland. 

Action: Members of the Review Group to send on any examples of firework display guidance that already exists. 

Youth Training Schemes

  • Alasdair Perry explained to the Group that the SFRS FireSkills course is a week long course that works with young people to help them into positive destinations.   Discussions are underway with SFRS on incorporating a module on Firework Misuse within this, as well as the forthcoming Youth Volunteer Scheme. 
  • Gilly noted that the SSPCA youth scheme might also have an interest in including such a module.
  • Willie commented that some youth groups and youth workers might have an interest in any modules that are developed, and that this could provide another good route to engaging with young people on the issue of fireworks misuse. 

Action: BSC team to follow up with SFRS on development of firework module and liaise with SSPCA and youth group thereafter.  

Public Awareness Campaigns

  • Eilidh discussed the two campaigns that were launched ahead of bonfire night 2019 and went on to explain that learning from the campaigns has taken place to help inform and develop future campaigns.
  • Eilidh also noted that all campaign materials were shared with local authorities and a wide range of stakeholders in 2019 and the same approach will be taken this year.
  • Lorraine emphasised the importance of campaign material being co-designed with people and communities most affected. 

Legislative Options

  • Elinor talked the group through the Options Appraisal Paper and explained that a shortlist of potential options has been identified.  Elinor outlined the Options Appraisal process, and indicated that the Group are moving into the third and fourth stages (short list appraisal; and identifying preferred option).  
  • Eleanor asked for clarification on how the issue of fireworks is being taken forward in other parts of the UK, and whether there is opportunity to develop a UK-wide solution in partnership. 
  • It was noted that Scottish Government officials have been liaising with counterparts in the UK Government, and that all outputs from the fireworks consultation and related analytical work have been shared.  Discussions are ongoing and the Group will be kept informed with any developments.   
  • Elinor also mentioned that Ministers in Wales have written to the UK Government in support of the recommendations from the House of Commons Petitions Committee Report on fireworks; and that the UK Government is yet to issue its response to the Report. 
  • Donna asked that the outcomes identified in relation to any change in legislation include reducing harm.
  • Tim asked what plans were in place to ensure any changes introduced are adequately monitored and evaluated, and that this needs to be considered as part of the process.  

Action: Elinor to update intended outcomes to include reducing harm. 

Action: Monitoring and Evaluation of the Action Plan to be discussed at a future meeting of the Group. 

Options Appraisal Workshop

  • The Group was spilt into 3 sub-group groups to discuss the 8 short-listed options, and to identify the pros, cons and unintended consequences of each.  Each sub-group was also asked to provide a score for each option.   
  • After the workshop, Alasdair explained that the discussion from the sub-groups will be analysed and reported back to the Group at the next meeting.

Action: A full write up from the workshop will be developed and tabled at Review Group meeting 3. 

Local Prevention and Diversionary Activity in Blackburn

  • Lisa Haggarty from Community Action Blackburn provided an overview of the prevention and diversionary work undertaken in Blackburn, led by the community, to reduce fireworks misuse in the area.  Lisa explained that Blackburn has been a ‘hotspot’ for firework related antisocial behaviour during the bonfire night period and explained that the community are actively working to address this.  Lisa showed the Group a short video of local youths targeting Police Officers with fireworks on bonfire night.
  • Lisa provided an outline of the proactive approach taken in Blackburn which was undertaken in partnership with local stakeholders, and centred around activities being put on for young people in the area at the Blackburn Partnership Centre, including an earlier session for primary school aged children (P4-P7) and a second for older children (secondary 1 and above).
  • The benefits and overall success of the approach implemented was discussed, although it was acknowledged that there were some incidents of anti-social behaviour including young people targeting Police riot vans with fireworks.  It was felt the presence of the Police, particularly Police riot vans could have played a role in sparking off this behaviour. 
  • Lisa explained that the Partnership Group world continue to meet this year to build on the success of last year, and make further improvements for bonfire night this year.
  • A number of questions and points were raised during the discussion:
    • Christopher asked if it was known whether the problem is being caused by youths who live in area or if it is youths coming in from other areas.  It was felt that in 2019 it was primarily among people who live in the area.   
    • John asked if there was any intelligence around how these young people accessed fireworks.  Alison suggested that some of the youths were buying fireworks though online platforms, as well as from adults.   

    • The value of the Crimestoppers Fireworks campaign which ran in Blackburn ahead of bonfire night 2019 was recognised, and it was noted that this was very well received by the community.   

Multi-Agency Partnership Overview

  • James Royan from Police Scotland presented to the Group on the multi-agency approach ‘Operation Moonbeam’ that has been taken forward in Scotland over the last few years.  Operation Moonbeam originated in 2018 to prevent and deal with antisocial behaviour in and around bonfire night.  
  • James outlined the different stages to Operation Moonbeam including prevention and early intervention, local antisocial behaviour initiatives, national public order response, and return to normality and debrief.  He also outlined the level of national and local planning that is put in place. 
  • James showed a video of Police Scotland responding to an incident in Pollokshields, that shows a pre-planned attack on Police Officers responding to a make shift bonfire on the road.  James explained that these violent attacks were the reason the Operation was set up.
  • James explained the positive impact of the Operation on reducing the number of incidents recorded from 2018 to 2019 - November 4th saw a 49% reduction between 2018 and 2019, and 5th November saw a 9.9% reduction over the same period. 
  • James also explained that 30% of police calls between 8pm – 10pm on the 5th November were fireworks related.  It was recognised that this indicates that the incident has been given a firework tag, not necessarily that a criminal offences has occurred.
  • A number of questions and points were raised following the presentation:
    • John asked if there was any intelligence to suggest that drugs or alcohol were playing a role in driving this behaviour. While it was recognised that this may play a part, a number of Group members felt there were a range of reasons for this behaviour, including peer pressure and the adrenaline rush. 
    • Fraser indicated that the Fireworks Industry would be interested in seeing more detail on the incident data, including how many of these relate to criminal activity and how many are due to people not being aware of existing rules and regulations. James agreed look to see what further information could be provided.  The industry are trying to promote the use of 101 for non-emergencies to keep 999 for genuine emergencies.

    • A number of Group members queried the cost associated with the national operation and James agreed to explore this and report back to the Group. 

    • Lorraine mentioned that it isn’t necessarily the criminal side of the calls that matter but rather that individuals felt the need to call the police as they don’t feel safe.  

    • Alasdair Hay noted that the scale of the problem is a genuine issue and needs to be tackled in a proportionate way.

Action: James to explore what further information can be provided to the Group on the nature of firework related calls, and the cost of the operation. 

Next Steps and Closing Remarks

  • Alasdair thanked the Group for their attendance and input at today’s meeting, and particular thanks to Alison and Lisa for hosting the meeting in Blackburn.
  • The next meeting will be held on 5th March 2020.  Location to be confirmed. 
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