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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 11:21 GMT
Firework 'louts' face ban
Fireworks injure more than 1,000 people a year
Under 18s are to be banned from having fireworks in public places, as part of new laws aimed at tackling their "loutish" misuse.

The most powerful fireworks will also be banned and fines for people seen throwing fireworks doubled to 80, the government said.

Announcing the decision ahead of the traditional bonfire night celebrations, Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said she wanted to "drive the fireworks thugs off the street".

The measures come as police in Merseyside launch an investigation after a firework was thrown through the window of a police car on Monday night.

An explosion sent a shower of glass across the street in Tuebrook, Liverpool, but nobody was injured.

The irresponsible ones have spoiled it for the rest.
Sandy, UK

The new restrictions, which will become law before Christmas, will be followed by plans for further restrictions on the use of fireworks which could make future bonfire nights much quieter affairs.

The government proposes:

  • A complete ban on fireworks known as airbombs
  • A national curfew banning the use of fireworks during anti-social hours
  • A noise limit of 120 decibels on fireworks available to the public
  • Compulsory training for operators of public firework displays
  • Stricter licensing for the sale of fireworks

'Dangerous weapons'

Ms Hewitt said: "In the right place and the right time fireworks are a real source of pleasure and we want families to enjoy the safe use of fireworks in their gardens and in public displays.

"But people across the UK are sick of being terrorised by irresponsible use of fireworks."

Most of the abuse of fireworks has been coming from the cheaper end of the market
Fireworks retailer John Bush

She was backed by Home Secretary David Blunkett, who said: "In the wrong hands fireworks are not only noisy and alarming, they can be dangerous weapons that can be used to terrorise neighbourhoods."

John Bush, of retailer Millennium Fireworks, welcomed the decision to completely ban airbombs - a type of Roman Candle which fires a single loud explosion into the air.

Mr Bush said: "This latest move on air bombs - some of which sell for as cheaply as four for 99p - is taking pocket money fireworks out of the equation. And that is a good thing.

"Most of the abuse of fireworks has been coming from the cheaper end of the market."

An upsurge in fireworks-related crime has led some senior police officers to call for a total ban on the sale of fireworks.

The British Fireworks Association, which represents fireworks retailers, favours stricter laws but argues against a total ban.

It claims banning the sale of fireworks altogether would drive them underground - a view endorsed by the government.

Councils around the country receive thousands of complaints and more than 1,000 people are injured by fireworks annually.

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05 Nov 03  |  Merseyside
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Call for quieter fireworks
04 Nov 03  |  UK


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