Publication - Independent report

Firework Review Group: report to the Scottish Government

The final report from the Firework Review Group presents recommendations to Scottish Ministers on tightening legislation on fireworks in Scotland.

Firework Review Group: report to the Scottish Government
Review Group Approach

Review Group Approach

The Firework Review Group was formed in November 2019 following the Minister's statement in Parliament which announced the launch of the Fireworks Action Plan: Promoting the safe and appropriate use of fireworks in Scotland. A key action in this plan was to establish an inter-disciplinary group that would consider opportunities for legislative change and present recommendations and advice to the Scottish Government on appropriate moves to tighten the regulations on fireworks in Scotland.

The Review Group first met on 5 December 2019, with the final meeting expected to be August 2020. However, this was extended to October 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The remit and membership of the Group is outlined in Figure One.

At our first meeting, we reflected on the reasons why this review was required. The public consultation[1] carried out in 2019 attracted a significant response – one of the largest responses ever to a Scottish Government consultation, highlighting the strength of feeling that people have in relation to fireworks. Taken together with the nationally representative opinion poll[2] that was carried out it was clear there is a strong public desire for tighter restrictions to be introduced in relation to how fireworks are sold as well as how they are used. A number of additional 'drivers' for change were also clear, including:

  • Firework related attacks on emergency service workers, some of these with life changing consequences.
  • The anti-social behaviour and misuse of fireworks, and significant impact this can have on individuals and communities.
  • Animal welfare concerns, including for pets, wildlife and livestock.
  • The resourcing impact on emergency services, local authorities and the NHS in preparing for and responding to the bonfire season.
  • Firework related injuries to the general public.
  • The noise and disturbance of fireworks, particularly on those with noise sensitivity who are negatively affected.
  • The different environmental impacts of fireworks use – from discarded material to air pollution.

Central to our approach was the requirement of the Group to fully consider the evidence available both in Scotland and internationally to ensure that our recommendations are fully informed and evidence based; alongside the professional expertise and experiences that our members brought in relation to the sale, distribution, use and misuse of fireworks and consequences.

To do this, we used an Options Appraisal approach when considering potential options for legislative and regulatory change. This appraisal helped to provide assurance that all relevant issues were considered. It provided a framework for clearly setting out the potential effects, trade-offs and overall impact of available options and an objective evidence base for decision making.

We held a workshop at our meeting in January 2020 where we discussed and assigned a high level score to each potential option for change; and this was followed by a number of sub-group discussions at subsequent meetings. We progressed our work through four key stages:

  • Stage One: Identifying and considering the available evidence, including evidence based presentations from members on the Group; and identifying and considering potential options for change through an Options Appraisal approach.
  • Stage Two: Identifying the preferred option for change.
  • Stage Three: Mapping the anticipated benefits and outcomes of preferred option for change through a Benefits Mapping process.
  • Stage Four: Final recommendations.

Our work involved drawing together different forms and quality of evidence, including empirical evidence, available management information data along with qualitative and experiential data to ensure a comprehensive and rounded picture of fireworks in Scotland. In addition to the evidence gathered through the fireworks consultation in early 2019 and related analytical work, this included evidence-based inputs from members of the Group, and this is described in more detail in Section 4.

We also commissioned additional analytical work to look at the evidence available internationally and to draw on evidence on the effectiveness – or otherwise - of tighter measures in place in other countries. Key findings from this are highlighted throughout this report, and the full report is available online.

Figure One: Membership and Remit of the Firework Review Group

Our Group includes members from a wide range of key stakeholder organisations with varied knowledge and experiences relating to fireworks in Scotland. Membership organisations represented included:

  • British Fireworks Association (Fraser Stevenson)
  • British Pyrotechnists Association (Cliff Stonestreet)
  • British Veterinary Association (Kathleen Robertson)
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde / Care of Burns in Scotland (COBIS) (Mrs Eleanor Robertson)
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (Alasdair Perry)
  • Representative from Blackburn Community Action (Alison Kerr)
  • Representative from West Pilton West Granton Community Council (Willie Black)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Mike Callaghan)
  • Police Scotland (Superintendent Tim Ross)
  • Scottish Ambulance Service (Donna Baillie)
  • Scottish Community Safety Network (Lorraine Gillies)
  • Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland (Gillian McNaught)
  • Scottish SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) (Gilly Mendes Ferreira)
  • Trading Standards (Christopher Bell)
  • Veterans Scotland (Jim Wilson).

We are grateful for comments and contributions from Chief Inspector Hazel Scott (Police Scotland), Andy Hubble and Dr Tom Smith (British Pyrotechnists Association); and Michelle Kirkbright (West Lothian Council); and to those who presented to the Group, including:

  • Superintendent James Royan (Police Scotland)
  • Lisa Haggerty (Community Action Blackburn)
  • Mr Stuart Watson; Dr Julie Dobbin and Miss Kerry Davis (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde / COBIS)
  • Chris Fitzpatrick (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service).

The Group met eight times between December 2019 and October 2020. The following objectives guided our work:

  • Evidence from multiple sources with guidance from knowledge and experiences of group members in the formation of recommendations
  • Review of international legislation and regulation in the identification of good practice which may be relevant to Scotland
  • Specifically advising on options including, but not limited to, the introduction of:
    • Restrictions on the use of fireworks on private property.
    • Tighter dates and times when fireworks can be set off.
    • A notification system before fireworks can be used.
    • 'No firework' areas or zones.
    • Restrictions on the times fireworks can be sold.
    • Mandatory conditions at point of sale.
  • Recommending a timetable to implement change, and any further steps or considerations to be explored.