Following the overwhelming results of the public consultation on fireworks that took place in 2019, I have taken forward a number of actions to promote the safe and responsible use of fireworks in our communities.
It was clear from the level of response to the consultation that fireworks are an important issue to the people of Scotland and that there is a strong appetite for change. It also highlighted that fireworks, particularly at organised events, can benefit communities when they are used responsibly at the right time and in the right place.
To help the Scottish Government consider options for legislative and regulatory change, I appointed an independent Review Group of expert stakeholders.
I asked the Review Group to build on what we had learned so far, consider options for legislative change and provide recommendations on tightening legislation to reduce the harm fireworks can cause.
The Group concluded that a fundamental shift is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used and made a number of recommendations for how this can be taken forward. I was pleased to welcome the report from the Group in November last year, in a statement to Parliament where I outlined my intention to explore how the measures they recommended could be implemented in practice.
As a number of the Group's recommendations required legislation in order to be brought forward into practice, I laid regulations in the Scottish Parliament in February this year. These regulations will restrict: the times of day fireworks can be supplied to the general public; the volume fireworks that can be supplied to the general public; and the times fireworks can be set off by the general public.
I am delighted to report that as a result of these regulations, we will now see a shift in how fireworks are bought and used in our community in time for this year's fireworks period.
The remaining Review Group recommendations, including the introduction of mandatory conditions at point of sale and no firework zones, require primary legislation to be taken forward. I remain determined to do everything possible to further the safe and considerate use of fireworks in communities around Scotland. I am therefore looking for the views of people and organisations who have an interest and involvement in the sale and use of fireworks.
I am also seeking views on how we might reduce the misuse of pyrotechnic devices such as hand held flares and smoke devices which are not being used for their intended purposes.
Professionally operated pyrotechnic displays which observe safety regulations can provide a spectacle for people attending events, such as music concerts and theatre shows, by contributing to the atmosphere and enhancing the experience of a live performance. They also have other legitimate uses, such as marine distress flares which are a vital piece of safety equipment for those involved in sailing.
Unfortunately some people disregard the inherent dangers of pyrotechnic devices and use them in thoughtless and irresponsible ways. As a result, setting off pyrotechnic devices can become one of the most serious and dangerous threats that people attending concerts, sporting events and street celebrations can encounter. All pyrotechnic devices are dangerous when let off in crowded, confined or public places with no thought for others. They can also have a negative impact on people who may be worried about attending certain venues or leaving their houses when certain events are taking place.
We have seen the impact that the misuse of pyrotechnics has had around the world with people being maimed for life and even leading to fatalities. I am committed to making our communities safer and to taking strong action now to avoid serious injuries and possible fatalities in Scotland as a result of misused pyrotechnics.
That is why I am consulting on new provisions on whether it should be an offence to carry a pyrotechnic device in a public place without reasonable excuse, and whether police powers should be extended to allow a stop and search provision for anyone reasonably suspected of committing the offence. I would encourage you to respond to all the questions posed in the consultation because your views and opinions will inform how and whether this offence together with the police stop and search power should be introduced in Scotland.
I very much welcome your views, thoughts and ideas on both of these issues and encourage you to get involved in these conversations.
Minister for Community Safety