Submission to Labour Party policy forum

Sent to the Labour Party for submission to  https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/commissions/environment/fireworks-reform-of-regulations

Labour-Party-submission

Fireworks – a call for reform of fireworks regulations in the UK

Fireworks have the potential to cause physical, emotional and environmental damage. The sale of fireworks to the general public has increased very substantially over recent years and public concern about fireworks is increasing year-on-year. Supermarkets and on-line retailers provide a wide range of imported fireworks including powerful F3 (Category 3) display fireworks for sale to the general public. Anyone over the age of 18 can buy and use fireworks up to and including Category 3 fireworks at any time of the year and in any quantity. Public concern about fireworks has been demonstrated by the numerous petitions to parliament with 57 fireworks petitions submitted to the UK Government and Parliament petition website in the year 2017-2018 alone. In addition, petition sites such as change.org, the petition site, etc have many petitions against fireworks submitted each year.

Firework and anti-social behaviour

The level of anti-social behaviour with fireworks is very significant and there is evidence from the press and from the media and that the level is increasing year-on-year. In recent years, there have been a substantial number of reports in the press of deliberate use of fireworks as weapons to attack people and animals and there are numerous reports of fireworks attacks on police, fire and ambulance crews. The deliberate use of fireworks to frighten or injure people and animals is now commonplace and occurs at all hours of the day and night irrespective of the legal curfew on the late-night use of fireworks. Typically, this behaviour is due to young men and boys, many of whom are well below the minimum legal age to purchase, or have possession of, fireworks in a public place.

Fireworks and animals

Pets, domestic animals and wildlife are severely traumatized by fireworks noise and the environmental damage caused by the virtually unrestricted availability of cheap fireworks to the general public. Category F3 fireworks permit a maximum noise level of 120 decibels which is ‘equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off’ (RSPCA report). This noise level for animals is terrifying and both the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have called for the maximum noise level of consumer fireworks reduced to 95 decibels. Animal charities and organizations such as the RSPCA, the SSPCA, the BVA, the Dogs Trust and the Blue Cross have repeatedly called for stronger regulation of fireworks and fireworks use. Each year many animals are panicked or traumatized by fireworks often resulting in severe injury or death. There are many reports, where animals such as dogs, cats, horses have been involved in road accidents due to panic from unexpected fireworks noise and flash (FAB report link). Also reported are horses aborting foals or maiming themselves and animals dying from shock and panic after exposure to an unexpected fireworks noise.

Fireworks accident data

Fireworks are highly dangerous pyrotechnic devices which can cause severe injuries, ranging from severe burns to blinding and sometimes even to death. Table 1 shows the annual NHS statistics for hospital admissions and A&E attendances due to fireworks injuries over the last 10 years in England alone. These statistics show a sharp increase in hospital admissions over the last two years with the highest total over the last 10 years (183) in the last available year (2016-2017) and the second highest total (168) in the last available year but one (2015-2016).  The breakdown of hospital admissions for children (age 14 and under) is even more alarming as the number of admissions in this age group has almost tripled over the last four years. Again, the highest total over the previous 10 years (59) occurred in the last available year (2016-2017) with the second highest total (53) in the last available year but one (2015-2016).

The A&E attendances due to fireworks injuries show a similar pattern of increase with the highest total over the last 5 years (5,340) in the last available year (2016-2017) and the second highest total (5,224) in the last year but one (2015-2016). The A&E attendances data for 2011-2012 was unreliable and discounting this year the A&E total for the last year of available data (2016-2017) was the highest for 10 years with the second highest total in the in the last year but one (2015-2016).

Table 1 Fireworks injuries: counts of hospital admissions and A&E attendances for England from 2008-2017 sourced from NHS Digital data.

Annual period Hospital admissions A&E attendances
From To Totals Age (0-14) Totals
April 2007 March 2008 131 41 2,952
April 2008 March 2009 100 27 1,643
April 2009 March 2010 94 25 2,141
April 2010 March 2011 158 42 6,173
April 2011 March 2012 164 37 NA
April 2012 March 2013 137 22 4,999
April 2013 March 2014 120 22 4,434
April 2014 March 2015 114 36 4,506
April 2015 March 2016 168 53 5,224
April 2016 March 2017 184 59 5,340

Overall, the NHS fireworks accident data for England shows evidence of increases both for the number of hospital admissions and for the number of A&E attendances, especially over the last two years. There is also clear and compelling evidence that the percentage of the total number of fireworks injuries showed a disproportionately significant increase for children of age 14 and under.

Public concern

Concern over fireworks use has increased steadily over recent years and the Government has been petitioned regularly to impose stronger regulation on the availability and use of fireworks and there is now an urgent need to review fireworks regulation.

The main public concern is about the availability and use of powerful and dangerous fireworks by untrained and unlicensed members of the general public. Almost all of the serious accidents and injuries to people and the majority of the injuries and trauma to animals are due to fireworks use by untrained and unlicensed members of the general public. The increasing numbers of accidents to young people and children and the increasing levels of anti-social behaviour show that the problem of fireworks misuse is increasing year-on-year. Fireworks are not now restricted to a single day of the year (November 5th in England or New Year in Scotland) but are used indiscriminately at almost any time of the year. The fireworks issue cannot be resolved by ‘public education’ and for many people the availability of powerful fireworks for ‘private use’ is unacceptable. Fireworks are never ‘private’ and the huge social and financial costs of fireworks misuse and fireworks injuries to people and animals mean that the unrestricted availability and use of fireworks by private individuals is no longer acceptable.

Call for reform

Reform of the fireworks regulation is a now top priority for the many people who suffer blighted lives due to the almost unrestricted availability of fireworks to the general public. Backyard or back-garden fireworks are an especial source of danger and upset to many people

The vast majority of fireworks are Category 3, (Display Fireworks) all of which state that spectators must be at least 25 metres away when the firework is fired. This is a safety concern as few people have access to that amount of private space. (Wikipedia).

Injury figures support the advice that the safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display – far fewer people are injured here than at smaller family or private parties. (ROSPA).

Over the last seven years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people calling our emergency line, worried about the effect that fireworks are having on the animals around them. (RSPCA).

We call for a review of the fireworks regulations (The Fireworks Regulations 2004) with the aim of better controlling the availability of fireworks to the general public and especially with the aim of ensuring that powerful category 3 ‘Display’ fireworks are not available for unlicensed sale and use by the general public.

 

Links and references

 

Regulation of fireworks: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05704/SN05704.pdf

House of Commons Debate Pack: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-2018-0018/CDP-2018-0018.pdf

FAB report (2018): https://fireworkabatement.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/full-report-april-2016.pdf

FAB report (2018): https://fireworkabatement.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/addendum-to-report-2018.pdf

BVA Policy: https://www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/News,_campaigns_and_policies/Policies/Companion_animals/fireworks-and-animals-policy-position.pdf

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireworks_law_in_the_United_Kingdom

NHS statistics: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/hospital-admitted-patient-care-activity/2016-17

RSPCA: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/blogs/details/-/articleName/Blog_Fairer_fireworks

ROSPA: https://www.rospa.com/home-safety/advice/fireworks-safety/

Fireworks Regulations 2004: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1836/contents/made

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Reply to the 2017/18 petition and our response

 

This is the Government reply when our petition reached 10,000 signatures

Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

 

(our response in italics.)

 

Government acknowledges that many people have genuine concerns about the use and, the misuse, of fireworks and the risks of firework-related injury. However, the number of injuries is low, and the total number of hospital admissions caused by firework injuries has remained below 200 a year for the last 10 years.

 

This is misinformation, and only half the story, the number of injuries and A&E attendances has been rising year on year.  Many injuries and most mental health issues caused by fireworks are treated either within the home or by GP’s and so are not captured in statistics. In addition, many A&E attendances for treatment do not result in admission. When A&E attendances due to Firework related injuries are considered, there has been over 100% increase to date since 2010. Recent surveys have shown that 1/3 of parents and grandparents have reported witnessing injuries to children.  With regards to pets and livestock, many reported cases of distressed animals result in the death of or acute injury to valued family members, and often valuable livestock is lost within the farming community. Random fireworks affect people with mental health issues.1 in 4 people suffer with Mental health, Government have previously pledged that Mental Health will receive equal treatment to other health issues.  This has not been the case and it is falling further behind – Those with Mental Health issues become forgotten

The Government does not plan to make any changes to the way statistics relating to enforcement actions are collected. The Government believes the focus of enforcement should be on delivering necessary protections and on working with businesses, citizens and others to ensure safety.

 

There are NO statistics collected from any emergency services which would give the government an overall picture of the present situation regarding firework use and misuse.  Currently there are no statistics gathered or available from any of the emergency services, therefore it is not possible for the Government to reasonably assess both the current situation regarding Firework use or to assess the impact of the preferred approach currently applied.  However, given the year on year increases to firework related A&E attendances and attacks on emergency services, the ongoing public support for online Petitions regarding the use of Fireworks and the Fire Chiefs Statement 2018, it is reasonable to suggest that the current approach is not effective, and should be reviewed.

 

The Government believes that the current regulations strike the right balance between the enjoyment of fireworks by the public and restricting the sale and use of fireworks for public safety reasons.

 

365 days a year, all day, every day, is NOT a balance. In the name of a good time and enjoyment of fireworks for some, how much of a thoroughly bad time are you prepared to be inflicted on others? Public mental health has not been considered in any way. Given the current restrictions permit the use of fireworks 365 days a year, consideration must be given to the number of people who are adversely affected with mental health issues and pet owners. 1 in 6 people are believed to suffer from mental health issues in the UK, many of which will be severely affected by the year-round use of fireworks, and their families and friends are also witness to the distress caused. This adds to further unnecessary burden to our mental health/social care as a single incident can create the need for days or even weeks of addition support required. 44% of households currently own household pets, many of which suffer from anxiety and distress due to Firework explosions in close proximity.  Many of family homes, and it is very distressing for all members of the families to see loved pets suffering due to even a single firework. It is our belief that the right balance has yet to be reached, and that further information must be sought to ensure that vulnerable groups in society and animals/wildlife are adequately protected – the current legislation does not protect these groups in any way, given fireworks are permitted on any day of the year. There is no desire to fully ban the use of fireworks, however restrictions to allow fireworks only to the stated traditional, and multicultural times of year would provide a more reasonable balance between those who enjoy fireworks, and those that are negatively affected by them.

 

The best way to continue to reduce the distress caused by fireworks is to work with industry, retailers and others to promote the safe and responsible use of fireworks through guidance and public education and to ensure that appropriate action is taken against those that break the rules.

 

Education is not working. There is more anti-social use and more damage to people, animals and property than ever before. Again, there are no statistics to support the statement that appropriate action is taken against those that break the rules. The police do not/can’t act due to the staff shortages.  Due to lack of supporting statistics and little information regarding action taken against those that break the regulations, it is impossible to ascertain whether appropriate action is taken in all cases. Many members of the public have reported incidents to local police authorities, who are unable to provide resource to investigate apart from very serious life-threatening cases. Many forces do not record reported incidents and do not provide incident numbers. The current legislation is difficult for the police to apply in many cases, as it is almost impossible to ascertain the location of people launching fireworks outside of the Regulations, particularly when only small numbers are launched. As such, most forces are unable to assign limited resources when incidents are reported. As the current Regulations permit firework use at any time of the year, this is an ongoing concern for many members of the community.

 

The obligations for the Secretary of State referred to in the e-petition, to publish a Regulatory Impact Assessment and to consult interested organisations, only apply when making new regulations and we have no plans to change the legislation relating to fireworks.

 

Current legislation does not protect our modern 21st century multicultural Society and it is therefore not fit for purpose and should be reviewed. It does not protect any of the vulnerable people in our society, who are also affected, it is flawed in that it unfortunately allows others to have firework fun at the expense of the vulnerable.  In the absence of any specific statistical evidence the Government is being misguided if it believes the current legislation is effective, the suitability of any Legislation should be borne out by data and evidence, and should consider all aspects of Society, particularly those more vulnerable.

 

 

As set out above, given there is already legislation in place which controls the sale and use and misuse of fireworks; we have no plans to extend this further.

 

Legislation that is in place does not control the use and misuse of fireworks. Anti-social use is on the increase. Our emergency services come under attack on a regular basis. It is disappointing that there is an unwillingness to open this area of legislation for review given the year on year increase in anti-social use, attacks on our emergency services and injuries caused.  It has had public support, online Government petitions have gained over 100,000 signatures, each year, for the last 3 years, and there is increasing awareness of mental health issues within Society. 

 Even more concerning is that this decision was taken at 10,000 signatures, with disregard to the number of people yet to sign the petition or the parliamentary debate now taking place.  As a democratic country, we believe that this decision should be subject to discussion and debate, followed by an enquiry to establish how many people are affected by random fireworks throughout the year.

 

We are off to Parliament

29th January 2018 at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall

The government will debate our petition. We are sending out the latest MP briefing which will be added here soon.  We hope that we have gathered enough information to make our point………. Which is, fireworks, whether before or after the curfew, when not expected and prepared for, still have a negative effect on many people and animals.

The link to the parliamentary debate will be on here soon .

 

UNFAIR DISMISSAL

You could use parts of this to send to your MP.. It is always better to personalise emails and ask one or two direct questions that require an answer, not more, if you rant they can just ignore it as it asks for nothing.

FAB Firework Abatement Campaign have been campaigning for over 2 yrs to ask the UK government to restrict the use of fireworks for the benefit of people and animals.

A recent petition backed by FAB achieved over 100,000 signatures in ONE MONTH, proving with  certainty that many people are just about fed up with random fireworks. We all accept the traditional dates of 5th November and 31st December along with Diwali and Chinese New Year, it is the random use throughout the year and the prolific use during ‘FIREWORK SEASON’, as it has become, that is an issue for many people.

This petition was unfairly denied a debate. Click here for letter that can be sent to your MP to complain of this unfairness and maybe achieve a change of heart from the Petitions Committee. (it is the PC that decide which petitions are debated, regardless of how many signatures they achieve).

Please amend and add your feelings to this letter to your MP..It is very easy to send an email … although a letter is better….Find your MPs postal address here, search by postcode or their name. Info on the letter campaign can be found here.

The petition in question still has over 3 months to run….please continue to share and sign.

 


SIGN HERE please to help FAB stop random fireworks. Read our HOME PAGE to see what we are about…

Please report every incidence of fireworks you hear on our FIREWORK LOG. We are collecting data to prove to the government that random fireworks do occur……They insist fireworks are mostly limited to traditional dates already. We know that is not the case.

Please WRITE TO YOUR MP and let them know how you feel.. If you don’t tell them they will continue to deny the problem.

FAB are asking the government to restrict public USE of fireworks to traditional dates. That works out about 10 days a year. So you can still have them in your gardens around Guy Fawkes and New Year, Diwali and Chinese New Year.. There will still be displays and fireworks competitions as there are now, just no random unexpected fireworks to frighten people and animals.

#fabuk

It’s not you…it’s all the others!

But just to help….

Don’t drink and drive

Don’t text and drive

Don’t do anything to detract from your concentration…..it’s not you, it’s the other idiots on the road you have to watch out for.

Oh… and other than NYE please don’t celebrate with fireworks…. 5th Nov has long gone and people won’t be expecting them. Animals will be scared and some will be lost/killed/injured, some people will be scared too…. Have a thought for your elderly neighbour, at least warn them …

Please take extra care over the holidays.

SIGN HERE please to help FAB stop random fireworks. Read our HOME PAGE to see what we are about…

Please report every incidence of fireworks you hear on our FIREWORK LOG. We are collecting data to prove to the government that random fireworks do occur……They insist fireworks are mostly limited to traditional dates already. We know that is not the case.

Please WRITE TO YOUR MP and let them know how you feel.. If you don’t tell them they will continue to deny the problem.

FAB are asking the government to restrict public USE of fireworks to traditional dates. That works out about 10 days a year. So you can still have them in your gardens around Guy Fawkes and New Year, Diwali and Chinese New Year.. There will still be displays and fireworks competitions as there are now, just no random unexpected fireworks to frighten people and animals.

#fabuk

 

 

‘VETS NOW’ ARE SUPPORTING CALL FOR SILENT FIREWORKS AT ALL NEW YEARS EVENTS

Vets at the UK’s leading provider of pet emergency care are calling for quiet fireworks at all New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Why not email Amanda Boag, ‘Vets Now’ Clinical Director at ‘Vets Now’  on  marketing@vets-now.com and let them know how you feel about fireworks

Please click HERE to read the whole story

AND just 2 weeks until New Years Eve

Please click on pic and sign this petition to help FAB stop random fireworks…. because it’s  just 2 weeks until New Year and another barrage of fireworks…that’s if not already!!

CLICK HERE  please to help FAB stop random fireworks. Read our home page to see what we are about…

Please report every incidence of fireworks you hear on our firework log. We are collecting data to prove to the government that random fireworks do occur……They insist fireworks are mostly limited to traditional dates already. We know that is not the case.

FAB  are asking the government to restrict public USE of fireworks to traditional dates. That works out about 10 days a year. So you can still have them in your gardens around Guy Fawkes and New Year, Diwali and Chinese New Year.. There will still be displays and fireworks competitions as there are now, just no random unexpected fireworks to frighten people and animals.