Watching fireworks is popular and fun. But
fireworks are explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful
handling and storage.
That is why there are laws in place to govern the use and possession of
fireworks, and how they are stored and sold.
New legislation has
been introduced (see below) to help to make fireworks safer to use and to tackle
their deliberate misuse. It affects how fireworks are imported, sold
and used, and places restrictions on possession.
It means that fireworks
will be safer, less noisy and can only be let off at certain times. It
also means that those misusing them to either damage property or
injure will be able to be dealt with by the relevant authorities.
Consumers, along with
retailers, have new responsibilities. Fireworks will only be widely
available during the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night and a few days
before New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year. For the rest of
the year, you will only be able to buy fireworks from shops that are
licensed to supply them.
It is an offence under
section 80 of the Explosives Act 1875 to throw or set off fireworks in
any highway, street, thoroughfare or public place. The power to
enforce this section of the Act rests with the police. Anyone found
guilty is liable to pay a fine of up to £5,000. Penalty notices for
disorder (on-the-spot fines) can also be issued for this offence,
attracting the upper tier fine of £80.
In Regulations made
under the Fireworks Act 2003, it is also an offence for the under 18s
to possess fireworks in a public place and for anyone to let fireworks
off during night hours (11pm to 7am). As from 11 October 2004, police
also have the power to issue penalty notices for disorder for these
offences. Again, the offence attracts the upper tier fine of £80.
Under section 1 of the
Protection of Animals Act 1911 it is an offence to cause any
unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals. The penalty
on conviction is a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months
imprisonment, or both. Enforcement of this section of the Act rests
with Trading Standards, the Police or the RSPCA as appropriate.
Legislation and retailers
How the changes in the
law affect retailers is described in more detail in
their section of this site.