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Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRIWA) for the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill.


Key Findings, including an assessment of the impact on children’s rights, and how the measure will contribute to children’s wellbeing

1. Which UNCRC Articles are relevant to the policy/measure?

List all relevant Articles of the UNCRC and Optional Protocols.

The four general principles of the UNCRC are the guiding principles which underpin each and all of the specific rights outlined in the Convention. These must be considered in every CRWIA. These are:

Article 2 - Non-discrimination

Children should not be discriminated against in the enjoyment of their rights. No child should be discriminated against because of the situation or status of their parent/carer(s).

Article 3 - Best interests of the child

Every decision and action taken relating to a child must be in their best interests. Governments must take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that children have the protection and care necessary for their wellbeing - and that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for their care and protection conform with established standards.

Article 6 - Life, survival and development

Every child has a right to life and to develop to their full potential.

Article 12 - Respect for the views of the child

Every child has a right to express their views and have them given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. Children should be provided with the opportunity to be heard, either directly or through a representative or appropriate body.

Further to these principles, consideration of the following articles is relevant within the context of the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill:

Article 16 - Right to privacy

Every child has the right to privacy. The law should protect the child’s private, family and home life, including protecting children from unlawful attacks that harm their reputation.

The Bill contains provisions to enable police officers to stop and search an individual and/or their vehicle, for fireworks or pyrotechnic articles, without warrant. This is consistent with enforcement powers within existing fireworks legislation. This is essential to the effective enforcement of the proposed law, to help prevent and detect crime, and, importantly in the context of this Bill, to keep the public safe.

While being searched does not mean that you are being arrested and does not mean that you will have a criminal record, we understand that stopping and searching members of the public is a significant intrusion into their personal liberty and privacy and that all stop and search activity must be appropriate – that is, lawful, necessary and proportionate.

From 11 May 2017, police in Scotland must follow the Stop and Search Code of Practice. This Code sets out rules for when the police can use stop and search, how the search should be carried out and what information about the search should be recorded. It also covers the information the officer should give you so that you understand what will happen and why.

The code of conduct makes clear that, if the person being stopped is under 18, they should be searched by an officer of the same sex and they should use language the young person can understand.

The Whole System Approach (WSA) is the Scottish Government’s programme for addressing the needs of young people involved in offending. We focus on tackling the causes of offending by young people and supporting them to change their behaviour, with the aim of avoiding them entering the criminal justice system.

The intended aim of the creation of an offence of being in possession of a pyrotechnic article, including fireworks, at certain events and venues is to ensure this type of preventative approach, tackling the issue at an earlier stage than is currently possible, by intervening before harm is caused, to the young person themselves, or to others, by the misuse of pyrotechnics and fireworks. When offending is done by children and young people, Police Scotland take a flexible approach, looking to prevent future offending or antisocial behaviour by providing timely and proportionate interventions, and alerting other agencies to concerns about the child or young person's behaviour and well-being.[8]

Article 19 - Protection from all forms of violence

Children have a right to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. Governments must do all that they can to ensure this.

Data relating to firework injuries in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) NHS Health Board area covering 2008-2019[9] shows that young people (aged 0-17 years) were disproportionately affected by injuries, with this age group experiencing 51% of injuries while only accounting for 19% of the population. Studies[10] also found that young people, often defined as those under 18 or aged 5-20 years, sustain most firework-related injuries.

The introduction of a firework licensing scheme with mandatory conditions for the general public and community groups to meet before they are able to purchase fireworks, further restrictions on the days of use and supply of fireworks, and new proportionate and transparent local authority powers to designate an area as a Firework Control Zone where necessary, will all contribute towards a society where fireworks are used safely and with regard to others, reducing harm and distress, including to children and young people.

By creating an offence for a person, without reasonable excuse, to possess a pyrotechnic article, including a firework, in relation to designated venues or events and public assemblies and processions, the Bill reduces the risk of harm and distress to children and young people attending such events who may otherwise be exposed to pyrotechnic misuse.

While it is already an offence for fireworks and the majority of pyrotechnic articles to be sold to anyone under the age of 18, or for anyone under 18 to possess fireworks in a public place, the creation of a proxy purchasing and supply offence to additionally criminalise the supply of fireworks and pyrotechnics to people under the age of 18 outwith a commercial setting will provide additional protection from harm for children and young people. It will do this in terms of reducing physical risk from firework and pyrotechnic misuse by children and young people themselves, and in terms of possible manipulation by adults to carry, for example, pyrotechnic articles into crowded events.

While these provisions also impact on children and young people who may wish to take possession of and/or use a pyrotechnic provided to them by an adult, the Scottish Government believes the benefits are clear. The strong public interest in ensuring children and young people under-18 do not have access to explosive articles that could cause harm if misused is considered to make these impacts proportionate. The provisions are necessary to achieve these benefits. Furthermore, there are exemptions to this offence to (a) ensure the provision of visual distress signals for appropriate use as intended by the manufacturer is not criminalised and (b) to ensure those under 18 employed by, or in business as, a professional organiser or operator of fireworks or pyrotechnic displays are not unfairly impacted. Additionally, firework and pyrotechnic articles that can be legally sold to those under-18, such as F1 fireworks and percussion caps for toy guns, are excluded from the provisions of the Bill where it is legal for them to be in possession of such items.

Article 23 – Children with a disability

A child with a disability has the right to live a full and decent life with dignity and, as far as possible, independence and to play an active part in the community. Governments must do all they can to support disabled children and their families.

An evaluation of firework related harm in Scotland, published in October 2020,[11], highlighted the negative impact that hearing fireworks, particularly when unexpected, can have on potentially vulnerable members of society, including people with sensory issues and autistic people, especially autistic children.

Engagement with the British Veterinary Association and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals highlighted the negative impact that can be experienced by domestic pets and livestock.

This can be distressing for domestic pets and their families, including the children and young people who care for them, but can cause additional concerns for those children and young people with a disability or who otherwise need assistance who rely on their domestic animals to live actively and independently.

During the 2021 consultation, the online event held with those people impacted by sight loss, or working on sight loss issues, heard of the distress that can be experienced by those with sight loss and to guide dogs while fireworks are being used.

The provisions placing further restrictions on the days of use and supply of fireworks, and new proportionate and transparent local authority powers to designate Firework Control Zones where necessary, will contribute towards a society where fireworks are used with regard to others, reducing harm and distress, and allowing those most negatively impacted to be aware of when fireworks are likely to be used, and make plans accordingly.

Article 24 - Health and health services

All children have a right to the highest attainable standard of health, and to health care services that help them to attain this. Governments must provide good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that children can stay healthy.

The additional resourcing of emergency services, local authorities and the NHS in preparing for and responding to the bonfire season has an impact on the resources that could be used elsewhere within the healthcare sector. The disproportionate number of injuries to children and young people means that pressure on the services available for that demographic may be even more pronounced.

In the evaluation of firework related harm referred to previously, the estimated health expenditure on treating firework injuries over the period 2008-2019 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde was £463,583, a mean cost of £38,632 per annum. The majority of this cost (£438,775) is incurred in treating patients admitted to hospital. There is no evidence of either an upward or downward trend in the costs data. This is likely to be an underestimate as the cause of injury is not always captured in the routine administrative records and certain resource use may not be captured. This data also does not capture those who attend General Practitioners or pharmacies for treatment and advice.

Additionally, firework related attacks on emergency service workers are not only distressing, and in some cases life-changing, for the workers involved, but again, diverts resource away from the provision of healthcare to others in need, including young people and their families.

Article 31 - Leisure, play and culture

Every child has a right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities, and to take part in a range of cultural and artistic activities.

We understand the enjoyment that children and young people in particular can get from watching a firework display, and the deep sense of community that can come from celebrating significant religious and festival days in this way.

The effect of the Bill will be to ensure that the use of fireworks can take place at organised events or when delivered by professional firework operators at any time of the year, and by the general public during specific periods of the year which align with long established traditional fireworks or religious events.

We understand there will be those who disagree with any further restrictions on the supply and use of fireworks, and consider that it disproportionality impacts on those in lower-income families who do not have the means to pay for a professional firework operator to organise a display; or pay for a fireworks licence over and above the cost of the fireworks; or who live in a community where communal organised displays are not provided.

We do believe that the proposals strike the correct balance – ensuring children and young people can safely enjoy the fun of a firework display, while ensuring this enjoyment does not cause significant harm or distress to themselves, their families and others in the community. However, we will ensure that the monitoring and review process, that all the provisions will be subject to, continues to keep the impact on lower-income families in mind.

Requiring members of the public and community groups to apply for and obtain a licence to purchase, acquire, supply, possess and use F2 and F3 fireworks will ensure that the person has successfully completed a training course and demonstrated learning of how to use fireworks in a safe, considerate and responsible manner, and otherwise meets the conditions for the issue of a licence. This will encourage the safe use of fireworks and reduce firework related harm and injury; and ensure that the purchase and use of fireworks is a considered and planned process, reducing spontaneous firework retail transactions and use of fireworks in inappropriate locations.

The powers for Local Authorities to designate Firework Control Zones will form part of the range of preventative and diversionary strategies that local partners currently utilise in planning and preparing for the safe and considerate use of fireworks within our communities. The introduction of Firework Control Zones is intended to target problematic use of fireworks, where this is occurring in an unpredictable way and having a negative effect on communities. This provision will provide an additional means of addressing the unpredictable use of fireworks by members of the public within a local area where, for example, this is considered to be an ongoing problem or to be having particularly significant negative impacts.

Article 40 – the right to get legal help and to be treated fairly if accused of breaking the law

When offending is done by children and young people, Police Scotland take a flexible approach, looking to prevent future offending or antisocial behaviour by providing timely and proportionate interventions, and alerting other agencies to concerns about the child or young person's behaviour and well-being.[12]

The Whole System Approach (WSA) is the Scottish Government’s programme for addressing the needs of young people involved in offending. We focus on tackling the causes of offending by young people and supporting them to change their behaviour, with the aim of avoiding them entering the criminal justice system.

The intended aim of the creation of an offence of being in possession of a pyrotechnic article, including fireworks, at certain events and venues is to ensure this type of preventative approach is tackling the issue at an earlier stage than is currently possible, by intervening before harm is caused, to the young person themselves, or to others, by the misuse of pyrotechnics and fireworks.

Contact

Email: fireworks@gov.scot

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