New British firework laws aim to kerb injuries

Air bombs will be banned from next month and new strict controls on mini rockets introduced in the latest Government move to crackdown on firework yobs, Consumer Minister Gerry Sutcliffe will announce today.

The new laws, that will be laid in parliament today, aim to cut the stress, noise and nuisance fireworks can cause, and reduce injuries. They will make it harder for under-18s to get hold of fireworks and ban air bombs, which cause the most nuisance on streets and housing estates. They:

  • * prohibit the supply of air bombs;
  • tighten the definition of mini rockets;
  • strengthen retailers' obligation to check if a customer is over 18.

From now on if a retailer has any doubt about the customer's age, retailers should ask for proof, as is the case with cigarettes and alcohol. Gerry Sutcliffe said: "Fireworks can be fun, but they can also cause untold misery. In the wrong hands they can be very dangerous, causing permanent injury, even death. Fortunately this is rare, although devastating when it occurs. "But what isn't so rare is the distress the reckless use of fireworks can cause animals or vulnerable people such as the elderly. "We are making it much harder for youngsters to get hold of fireworks. Air bombs and mini rockets are cheap 'pocket money' bangs - banning them will help keep them out of the hands of hooligans. "It is already illegal to sell fireworks to the under 18s and for them to have them in the street.

Now retailers will be required to check customers' ages helping to ensure our crackdown works." Retailers who break the rules could receive a fine of up to £5000 or six months in imprisonment.

Also published today are the 2003 Firework Injury Statistics, showing that the total number of people treated as hospital casualty departments in the UK in 2003 was 1136, compared to 1017 in 2002 and 1362 in 2001.

The majority of accidents were minor, with five per cent of casualties needing an overnight stay in hospital. They also show a decrease in the number of accidents in the street and from air bombs. They also show a slight increase in accidents at family or private parties.

Each year the DTI collects injury statistics from all hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland over a four-week period around November 5th.

  • Every year the DTI collects injury figures from all hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland over a four week period around 5 November.
  • The injury stats can be found Annex B. Further breakdown can be found on the DTI website
  • The new laws will come into force on 7 June.
  • The new laws amend the Firework (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1997, which are made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
  • A voluntary ban of air bombs was undertaken by the Industry in January 2003.
  • Local authority trading standards officers enforce the Regulations. Suppliers, including shopkeepers, who breach the requirements can be prosecuted in a magistrates court and if found guilty can be fined up to £5000, face a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or both.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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