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Monday, November 01, 2004

Bonfire Night

With Halloween behind us we now have the prospect of a week and a half of intensive fireworks in our local communities. I thought it would be useful therefore to reproduce this note from the Assembly Minister for Finance, Local Government and Public Services on the new Firework Regulations and Anti -Social Behaviour Measures.

Firework Regulations 2004 and Anti-Social Behaviour Measures

New laws which aim to improve safety and crack down on anti-social behaviour ahead of this year's firework season came into force on 8 June 2004, 7 August 2004 and 11 October 2004. These are the latest in a number of regulations to change the regulatory framework covering the supply and use of fireworks in England and Wales.

Further information is available at http://www.dti.gov.uk/fireworks


Under firework regulations it is now illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess adult fireworks in a public place;

for anyone other than a fireworks professional to possess category 4 (high-powered display) fireworks;

to let off fireworks between 11pm and 7am (except on a permitted fireworks night, see below);

for retailers to sell fireworks that are louder than 120 decibels; and

for fireworks to be on general sale except during specified periods (e.g. 15 October to 10 November; 26 December to 31 December; the three days preceding the Chinese New Year and Diwali).


The curfew is generally from 11pm to 7am but the start of the curfew will be later for some occasions during the year when fireworks are normally used for traditional or cultural events (a permitted fireworks night). These are Diwali Night, the Chinese New Year and New Year's Eve, when the curfew will not start until 1am. On 5 November the curfew will begin at midnight.


Under Home Office anti-social behaviour measures, introduced on 11 October, the police will be able to issue Penalty Notices for Disorder (£80 fine) for three new firework offences

possession of a category 4 (high-powered display) firework by any member of the public unless authorised;

any person under 18 years of age found with an adult firework in a public place; and

use of an adult firework between the hours of 11pm and 7am (with the exception of 5 November, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali).

Penalty Notices for Disorder can already be issued for throwing a firework in a public place. Offenders who refuse to pay the £80 fine will face an increased fine of £120 and court action.

Police forces around the country are being encouraged to use the anti-social behaviour measures to clamp down on loutish behaviour involving fireworks in the run up to this year’s bonfire night.

For the most serious offences, including breaking the curfew, the police will retain the power to prosecute offenders with penalties of a £5,000 fine and/or six months in prison.


The changes also include a new licensing system for those supplying fireworks all year round - whether retail or wholesale, and improved controls on the import of fireworks. Both of these measures will come into force on 1 January 2005.

Licences are granted by the appropriate local authority, which must refuse a licence unless the applicant complies with relevant statutory requirements concerning the keeping of fireworks and may refuse a licence (or revoke a licence previously granted) if the applicant has committed any fireworks related offences. A local licensing authority may charge a fee not exceeding £500 a year in connection with the granting of a licence under this regulation. The DTI estimate that in England, Scotland and Wales 3,000 suppliers will apply for a licence.

There will be short periods during the year where fireworks may be sold without a licence. These are:

5 November (3 weeks before and 5 days after)
New Year’s Eve (December 26 up to and including 1 January)
Chinese New Year (4 days before, including the day of the Chinese New Year);and
Diwali (4 days before, including Diwali)

Regarding the costs to Local Authorities, the Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) has not requested additional funding for this particular measure. They have advised that the cost of a licence will adequately cover both the costs of administration and enforcement.


The import measures described below are unlikely to affect Wales, as the majority of fireworks are imported through Felixstowe. However, for completeness, information is included about the new requirements.

Importers of fireworks will be required to give information about themselves, the storage place and onward supply of fireworks to the H. M. Customs and Excise Commissioners. LACORS will be advising on the costs associated with the processing of information passed on from Customs and Excise to local licensing authorities i.e. the Health and Safety Executive, Trading Standards Offices and the Fire and Rescue Service. It is envisaged that the Trading Standards Office at Felixstowe (Suffolk Trading Standards) will be responsible for gathering and distributing this information.

Future Regulations

On 3 January 2005, the firework industry’s ban on supplying air bombs to the general public will be enshrined in law – at present there is a voluntary ban.

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