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Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill: fairer Scotland duty assessment

A Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment (FSDA for the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill.


Stage 2 - Evidence

Please answer the questions below to help meet the duty's evidence requirements.

4. What does the evidence suggest about existing inequalities of outcome, caused by socio-economic disadvantage, in this specific policy area?

The evaluation of firework-related harm in Scotland[4], published in October 2020, compares the level of firework related harm over a number of years. The evaluation includes a number of studies and discussions relating to firework related injuries and highlights concerns about the over-representation of patients with fireworks related injuries from areas of deprivation.

In Study 1 of the evaluation, 84 Scottish Emergency Departments (ED) and Minor Injury Units (MIU) from 15 NHS Health Boards were invited to submit firework injury attendance data from 15 October 2019 to 12 November 2019. Analysis of the data disaggregated by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) demonstrated a significant correlation between lower SIMD rank and firework injury.

A second study showed that between 2008 and 2019, 198 patients attended an ED or MIU in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for management of 251 injuries. The results demonstrated an over-representation of patients from areas of greater deprivation. People residing in decile SIMD1 were twice as likely to require treatment for a firework-related injury than those residing in decile SIMD2 and almost 40% of patients attending ED with fireworks-related injuries resided in the most deprived SIMD decile. Of concern is the correlation between relative multiple deprivation and the risk of morbidity and mortality from unintentional injury and that these inequalities are not moderating over time. The evaluation concludes that the relationship between people living in areas of multiple deprivation and firework-related injuries is more acute than for those with general trauma.

The evaluation also highlighted concern about the acute and long-term effect of particulate matter and heavy metal pollution from firework displays. Exposure to particulate matter is correlated with conditions including: cardiovascular; respiratory (asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer); developmental (pulmonary and intelligence) and obstetric (pre-term births and low birth weight). Those residing in areas of greater social deprivation were also more likely to succumb to diseases connected with air pollution contribution.

The report concluded that the evidence of firework-related harm in Scotland remains evident and substantial. Individuals and communities are continuing to experience adverse health consequences from fireworks and that those at greatest risk of sustaining a physical injury are children and young men from areas of greater deprivation. The available literature suggests that particulate matter disease and death are more likely to affect deprived communities.

There are also links between the misuse of fireworks, antisocial behaviour and socio-economic disadvantage. 'The Scottish Picture of Antisocial Behaviour (ASB)[5]' report, published in July 2020, found that area deprivation stands out as a factor associated with antisocial behaviour. For example, 12 year olds living in the 20% most deprived areas, measured by the SIMD, were more likely than those in the 20% least deprived areas to have engaged in antisocial behaviour (36% compared with 25%). The report found that those living in the most deprived areas, in socially rented housing, and in large urban areas, as well as younger people, are more likely to perceive antisocial behaviour issues in their area. Specific factors that potentially link to or drive antisocial behaviour include: low-socio-economic status; lack of good facilities and social services; lack of appropriate youth facilities; opportunity to experience a sense of status, identity or social recognition and vulnerability and marginality (e.g. mental health issues, substance use, experiences of homelessness).

When considering the prevalence and type of antisocial behaviour, the report highlighted that the most common types of antisocial behaviour include noise nuisance, disturbance and complaints and fireworks misuse. For example, according to the Criminal History System, in 2018-19 the most common anti-social criminal behaviour to receive court action was fireworks misuse, followed by breach of anti-social behaviour orders.

The proposed offence of being in possession of a pyrotechnic article, including fireworks, at certain places or events includes designated sporting and music venues and events. While this applies to sports grounds and events broadly, it is inevitable that the impact on those attending football matches will be a central focus of scrutiny given evidenced instances of pyrotechnic misuse at certain football matches, and Police Scotland's concerns about the risk of injury and other harms this can cause. A 2016 profile of those attending football matches in Scotland, collated as part of Supporters' Direct National Football Survey, showed 95 percent of attendees were male, 36 percent were under the age of 35, and 37 percent were earning under £25k per annum[6].

5. What does the evidence suggest about any possible impacts of the policy/programme/decision, as currently planned, on those inequalities of outcome?

The policy will have a potential impact by restricting the supply and use of fireworks to the public. Limiting access to fireworks in this way will contribute to the reduction of the instances of fireworks misuse and the negative impact fireworks can have on people and communities. The requirement for members of the public to apply for and obtain a valid fireworks licence before they can purchase, possess and use fireworks will reduce the likelihood of spontaneous purchases of fireworks. A mandatory training course is also a core element of the fireworks licence system, which requires applicants to demonstrate learning of essential knowledge on how to use fireworks in a considerate, responsible and safe manner before the licence is granted reducing the risk of harm and injury, which disproportionally affects people living in deprivation.

Restricting the days that fireworks can be supplied to the public will narrow the period that fireworks can be accessed, which will align with the days when the use of fireworks by the public is permitted. This will reduce the sporadic use of fireworks, which some respondents to the 2019 and 2021 consultations described as anti-social behaviour, meaning that those negatively impacted by fireworks can take mitigating action and plan accordingly.

Children and young men from areas of greater deprivation are at greatest risk of sustaining a physical injury due to fireworks. The proxy purchase and supply offence is intended to reduce the ability of under 18 year olds to access pyrotechnic articles, including fireworks, by ensuring that adults do not purchase or otherwise make these available to children and young people. This will reduce the risk of these groups sustaining a physical injury due to a firework or pyrotechnic article, or other adverse health consequences.

The proposed Bill provides local authorities with the power to designate a place or places within its area as a firework control zone where it is not permitted for members of the public to use fireworks. This will contribute towards improving the lives of those living in communities that experience fireworks misuse as well as to reduce noise and disturbance. The process will be undertaken in consultation with communities and be responsive to the needs of the people that live there. As fireworks misuse is more prominent in deprived communities and urban areas, the benefits of the policy may be greater in areas of socio economic disadvantage.

Consultation responses from some football supporters indicate a perception or concern of disproportionate and targeted discrimination against football fans (and by extension, young, working-class men). We do not accept this criticism and instead believe the legislation will provide further protection for all attending – and working at - football matches, including those young men more at risk of harm from firework and pyrotechnics misuse.

6. Is there any evidence that suggests alternative approaches to the policy/programme/decision? E.g. Evidence from around the UK? International evidence?

The Bill provisions have been developed taking into consideration a range of evidence including a rapid review of the existing evidence[7]that considered the impact of fireworks in the context of international legislation and regulations, including evidence relating to injury, pollution, noise and animal welfare; as well as international case studies to draw on evidence on the effectiveness – or otherwise – of tighter measures in place in other countries[8].

The international case studies point to a potential reduction in firework related injuries with the introduction of restrictions on the time period fireworks can be used, alongside related measures introduced simultaneously. For example, evidence from Finland indicates a marked decline in the number of bystanders and firework users sustaining fireworks-related eye injuries following the enactment of measures in 2010, which included time restrictions on when fireworks can be used on New Year's Eve[9]. In the Netherlands, the number of people sustaining fireworks-related injuries (as a whole and eye injuries) has been consistently lower following the 2015 reduction in the usage period on 31 December from 16 hours to 8 hours, with the decline most pronounced amongst bystanders. Data from the Netherlands also suggests that regulations restricting when fireworks can be used coincided with a marked decline in the volume of firework imports.

7. What key evidence gaps are there? Is it possible to collect new evidence quickly in areas where we don't currently have any? For example, through consultation meetings, focus groups or surveys?

We believe that the broad base of evidence from research, public consultations in 2019 and 2021, surveys and focus groups provides sufficient evidence to inform this policy and proposed Bill. The Equalities Impact Assessment, however, identified a data gap in relation to NHS data on attendance at A&E and MIU in relation to firework related injuries. Work is ongoing with NHS and Public Health Scotland to address this and adequately monitor and track injury levels on a regular basis.

It will be important to monitor the impact of the policy changes proposed by the Bill as they are implemented.

8. How could you involve communities of interest (including those with lived experience of poverty and disadvantage) in this process? The voices of people and communities are likely to be important in identifying any potential improvements to the programme/policy/decision.

The policy is based on significant and wide-ranging consultation with communities, representative bodies, local authorities and individuals across Scotland. The 'consultation on fireworks in Scotland: Your experiences, your ideas, your views' ran for a period of 14 weeks, from 3 February closing on 13 May 2019. 16,420 formal responses were received, and of these 16,322 were submitted by individual members of the public while 98 responses were submitted by groups or organisations including key stakeholders.

Over the consultation period, 29 engagements were held with 258 people attending. Twenty four of these were open public events and five events for specific population groups, including: one for the South Asian community in Pollokshields and four for young people, one each through: Young Scot; Scottish Fire and Rescue Service; Youth Fireskills Programme; Citadel Youth Centre; and 6UT Youth Centre.

A letter was also issued to every community council and community safety partnership to raise awareness and garner interest. During the consultation, a range of social media platforms were also used to seek people's views and opinions.

The Firework Review Group – an independent group of key stakeholders[10] - were tasked with considering the legislative and regulatory options for change that emerged from consultation, scrutinising the evidence available, and alongside professional judgement and expertise setting out clear recommendations on what change is required to current legislation and regulations. Membership of the Group included two community representatives.

A further consultation was undertaken –' Use and sale of fireworks in Scotland, and tackling the misuse of pyrotechnics' - from 20 June to 15 August 2021. The consultation sought views on specific proposals to restrict the supply and use of fireworks in Scotland. The proposals were informed by the Firework Review Group recommendations.

The consultation also considered the use of pyrotechnic devices and specifically whether it should be an offence to carry a pyrotechnic device in a public place without reasonable excuse or lawful authority, and whether police powers should be extended to allow a stop and search provision for anyone reasonably suspected of committing the offence.

A total of 1,739 responses were received to the consultation and, of these, 64 were submitted by groups or organisations, including key stakeholders. Twelve online workshop events were held over the consultation period – eight open to anyone who wished to attend and four for specific groups, namely: the community in Pollokshields, which has experienced significant disturbance caused by the misuse of fireworks and; specialist firework retailers; sight loss organisations; and Trading Standards. The responses were again independently analysed and the analysis report was published online in December 2021.

Contact

Email: fireworks@gov.scot

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