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.

 

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