Following the overwhelming results of the public consultation on the sale and use of fireworks that took place in 2019, I appointed an independent Review Group of key stakeholders to consider options for legislative and regulatory change. I tasked the Group with building on what we heard through the consultation and, scrutinising the evidence available alongside their professional judgement and expertise, setting out clear recommendations to me on what change is required going forward.
I note that the Group has concluded that a fundamental shift is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used through 11 recommendations that relate mainly to how fireworks are sold and used by the general public in Scotland. I was pleased to welcome the report from the Group, published on 3 November 2020, in a statement to Parliament where I outlined my intention to explore how the measures recommended by the Group can be implemented in practice.
A number of these recommendations will require legislation in order to be brought forward into practice, and I am delighted to set out how this Government intends to progress these. In January 2021, I intend to lay regulations in the Scottish parliament to restrict: the times of day consumer fireworks can be sold to the general public; the volume of consumer fireworks that can be purchased by the general public; and the times consumer fireworks can be set off by the general public. If approved by Parliament, this will lead to positive and tangible change for individuals and communities in time for the November 2021 fireworks period.
A number of the Group’s recommendations, including for the introduction of: mandatory conditions before consumers are able to purchase fireworks; restrictions on the days fireworks can be sold; no fireworks areas / zones where it is not possible for fireworks to be set off; and a proxy purchasing offence so adults are not able to give adult fireworks to children under the age of 18 without prosecution require further consideration. Subject to the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections I will, as a matter of urgency, ensure further positive change is in place for communities going forward.
As legislation is taken forward, full consideration will, of course, be given to how each measure will work in practice and be enforced; and Scottish Government officials will continue to engage with enforcement agencies to inform the detail of how the new measures introduced will be enforced.
I welcome the positive examples highlighted by the Review Group of local community safety partners and enforcement agencies working together to identify and tackle emerging issues in relation to the illegal sale and misuse of fireworks. Further work will be taken forward over the coming months to build on these by developing, sharing and promoting other examples of good and promising practice in this area.
I note that the Review Group does not recommend a complete ban on the sale of consumer fireworks at this time. I intend to keep this under review as the legislative changes outlined above are taken forward and the impact of these is understood. I fully agree with the Group that it will be important to identify a number of key indicators to track and understand the impact of these changes in a range of areas, including the impact on our emergency services, on businesses, on our communities as well as in relation to firework related injuries.
I am fully committed to bringing about positive change in the relationship Scotland has with fireworks. Over 16,400 people across Scotland responded to the consultation last year. This highlighted that fireworks can be good for communities when they are used at the right time, in right place and used responsibly; with organised firework displays having the potential to bring communities together and have positive community benefits. However, it is clear there is strong support for changing how fireworks are sold and used in Scotland; and I hope the actions I have set out here reassure people that their voices have been heard and that legislation will be progressed as swiftly as possible to implement positive change.
Finally, I would like to thank the Review Group, chaired by Alasdair Hay CBE QFSM, for their hard work and commitment to develop their very constructive recommendations.
Minister for Community Safety
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