Publication - Research and analysis

Fireworks regulations - impact: case studies

Published: 3 Nov 2020

This paper consists of seven case studies, each one aligned to one or more of the legislative options being considered by the Firework Review Group.

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

Fireworks regulations - impact: case studies
Notes on the evidence

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

Notes on the evidence 

There are two EU Pyrotechnic Directives which standardise EU member states' regulations on fireworks[4]:

Directive 2013/29/EU sets out essential safety requirements for the design, manufacturing, labelling and supply of fireworks in the EU. Importers and distributors of fireworks must ensure that fireworks available on the market have followed the conformity assessment procedures. 

Under the Directive, fireworks are divided into four categories and minimum age limits are set for the purchase of each category which importers and distributers must adhere to:

  • Category F1: 12 years
  • Category F2: 16 years
  • Category F3: 18 years
  • Category F4: Professionals

Although the impact and effectiveness of the Directives is not within the scope of this paper, it is probable that the requirements will have contributed to some of the findings presented in this paper for EU countries. It is not possible to separate any impact of the Directives from the impact of country specific firework regulations or other external factors. 

The below table summarises the EU fireworks categories and the corresponding terminology used at times throughout the paper. Although the categories are fixed, the accompanying descriptions varied at times by country. 

EU Categorisation  Commonly referred to 
F1 indoor fireworks, sparklers, novelties 
F2 consumer, public, garden, retail, type 2 
F3 display 
F4 display, professional 

There are a number of other important points about the evidence base that need to be borne in mind. Taken together, these issues mean that the evidence is incomplete. Yet, in spite of this, the case studies move us away from relying solely on anecdotes and they provide an overview of the best available evidence in this area.

Anecdotal evidence: A handful of public sector agencies/bodies and government departments responsible for the regulations included anecdotal evidence in their response to information requests, and this was mainly provided in the absence of data. Only anecdotal evidence sourced in this way is included and it is clearly stated when the paper is drawing on this type of anecdotal evidence.  

Attribution vs Contribution: As is the case with most social policy interventions, the evidence included was not able to definitively (in a purist sense) attribute any changes to the impact of regulations per se, because none of the evidence sourced was able to control or account for the possible influence of external factors. Rather, the evidence is better placed to highlight instances where regulations may have contributed to an observed change, although in some cases there would appear to be a strong correlation between the introduction of regulations and a change. Conversely, there are number of instances where the evidence is more suggestive and therefore should be interpreted with caution. 

COVID-19: This research was carried out over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, resources were diverted in a number of the organisations contacted for information, meaning that they did not have the capacity to deal with the request at the time. 

Imperfect evidence: The quantity and quality of evidence available varied between and within countries, with more or 'better' evidence available for some areas than others. In addition, the measures and time periods covered varied according to the source. In many instances, data was not available for before and after the implementation of regulations, making it difficult to assess their effect. 

Police recorded crime data: This only includes crimes which come to the attention of the police and the numbers can be affected by reporting behaviours, public awareness, police activity and legislative changes.

Small numbers: Much of the evidence included deals with relatively small numbers, making it more susceptible to annual fluctuations. This can make it more challenging to identify if a new regulation has contributed to an observed change. In many instances, a longer term view may be required to ascertain the effect of regulations.

Time restrictions: The research was carried out in a relatively short period of time, meaning that it does not amount to an exhaustive review of the evidence in each country. Consequently, it is likely that not all relevant evidence was captured by the case studies. 

Translation: Whilst the majority of the information concerning Finland, Germany and the Netherlands was available in English, there were a number of sources which required translation. With the Netherlands in particular there were a number of additional sources which could not be readily translated, therefore they could not be included. 

Whole evidence base: This paper is not intended to be viewed in isolation, rather it should be considered alongside the other forms of evidence that have been considered by the Group.