With lockdown’s cancellation of organised public displays over Halloween and Bonfire Night bringing a rise in home use, concerns over the government’s unwillingness to reform the current legal regulations for purchasing pyrotechnics have manifested into a parliamentary e-petition with over 200,000 signatures to date.
As the law stands, anyone over 18 can purchase fireworks through general sale without a license. Fireworks can also be lawfully set off from 7am-11pm, with amended times for recognised holidays.
Westminster’s refusal to impose tougher measures has been justified on the basis of negatively impacting businesses and “local fundraising efforts”. From a human rights perspective, I strongly believe this argument can be easily flawed as a clear economic prioritisation at the cost of blatantly sweeping the safety of communities under the rug.
Undoubtedly, a blanket ban risks encouraging the illegal firework trade to soar, bringing greater safety risks. However, in my opinion tighter restrictions on timings and a need for licensing from local authorities is urgently required to combat their distressing effects on vulnerable groups including those with disabilities, those suffering from PTSD, and young children.
Furthermore, evidence indicating the disastrous environmental damage of fireworks resulting from noise pollution cannot be understated, with the RSPCA’s anti-firework campaign ‘Bang out of order’ firmly supporting a need for licenced firework displays. Recent attacks of fireworks thrown outside an RSPCA hospital in North London, the death of a horse in Bridgnorth after bolting, and the death of a cat in Rotherham due to lit fireworks being attached to its back all profoundly illustrate the realities which a lack of government restrictions on firework use brings.
As lockdown boredom resurfaces in the lead up to Christmas, I wholeheartedly believe the government must act decisively to prevent placing further lives at risk, whether they be animal or human.