1.1 Following high profile incidents during bonfire night in 2017, and again in 2018, the Scottish Government undertook work to look at the position of fireworks in Scotland. This included: a review of police and fire service activity linked to fireworks and bonfire night by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland and Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate for Scotland; and a programme of public consultation, stakeholder engagement and evidence gathering on the sale and use of fireworks in Scotland to identify what action was required going forward.
1.2 A 'consultation on fireworks in Scotland: Your experiences, your ideas, your views' launched on 3 February 2019 for a period of 14 weeks to its close on 13 May 2019. It was designed to start a conversation with the people of Scotland on how fireworks are sold and used. The consultation was an important step in gathering valuable evidence on a range of opinions and perspectives and covered organised displays, private use by individuals, and inappropriate use.
1.3 Over the consultation period 29 engagement events were held – 24 open public events, and five events for specific population groups including young people. A total of 16,420 responses were received from members of the public and stakeholder organisations.
1.4 In October 2019 the Minister for Community Safety published the Fireworks Action Plan which set out how the Scottish Government would address the concerns expressed through the national consultation. The Action Plan sets out activities that have been taken forward immediately, as well as longer term actions that will collectively support a change in how fireworks are used in Scotland.
1.5 An independent Firework Review Group was tasked with considering the options available to tighten legislation on fireworks in Scotland. The Group considered the evidence available and made a series of recommendations to Scottish Ministers in November 2020 (report available online) and reached a majority consensus that a fundamental shift is required in how fireworks are used and accessed in Scotland through the introduction of a comprehensive set of measures.
1.6 Prior to the introduction of Covid restrictions, reports of the misuse of pyrotechnic articles (in particular, flares and smoke bombs) at events across Scotland had become widespread and there is evidence of them having been set off at large gatherings such as concerts, music festivals, sporting events and on-street celebrations.
1.7 In 2018, Police Scotland approached the Scottish Government with their significant concerns about the dangers of misuse of pyrotechnic articles and the work they had been undertaking in relation to it. This included the establishment of a Police Scotland Short Life Working Group (SLWG) on pyrotechnic articles. This Group aimed to identify any improvements that might be made around the recording of pyrotechnic incidents, as well as establishing the need for further powers or other legislative change.
1.8 Following engagement with Police Scotland, in May 2019, the Scottish Government built on the work of the SLWG by holding stakeholder discussions to identify possible actions that could be taken to tackle the issue based on the evidence gathered and presented. These discussions, which were hosted by the Scottish Government, included representatives from Police Scotland, Scottish Police Federation, British Transport Police, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Scottish Government.
1.9 The conclusion from these stakeholder discussions was that a new offence was required, and led to the proposed new offence of being in possession of a pyrotechnic article at, in the vicinity of, or travelling to a designated event, without reasonable excuse or lawful authority, and for police powers to be extended to allow a stop and search provision for anyone reasonably suspected of committing the offence. This requires primary legislation in order to be implemented.
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