Should fireworks be banned? Should you need a licence to buy and use fireworks?

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill, which aims to make it more difficult to buy and use fireworks with the introduction of a licensing scheme.

Anyone with a fireworks conviction won’t be able to get a licence from the Scottish Government, which is likely to cost up to £50, and will need to do an online course.

The hope is this will tackle the anti-social use of fireworks.

The normal period given to the Parliament to scrutinise and amend the Bill has been reduced so that the new laws are in place by this year’s Bonfire Night.

Professional public displays will still be able to take place.

Every year, hundreds of people report antisocial firework use to the police.

Fireworks can be particularly distressing to those who have experienced conflict zones, such as veterans and refugees, to people with sensory issues, as well as to pets, wildlife and farm animals.

Emergency service workers are also targeted, and indeed those discharging fireworks sometimes injure themselves: one National Health Service board puts the cost of dealing with firework injuries at £40,000 a year.

I am a member of the Scottish Parliament Criminal Justice Committee, which has scrutinised the Bill - and has published a highly critical report on the proposed new law.

If passed, members of the public will have to purchase a license to buy fireworks. It will only be legal to buy them on 37 days of the year, and only legal to use them on 57 days of the year.

Local authorities will be enabled to introduce firework “control” zones - areas where all fireworks are banned except for professional displays. They will not have the power to ban professional displays.

The proposals are complex and it is likely that some people will accidentally break the law by setting off a firework on the wrong day or in the wrong postcode.

It won’t be possible simply to ban fireworks in select areas – such as near care homes or animal shelters – as professional displays will still be allowed.

The Committee report expresses concern that a black market in fireworks will emerge as a result of the Bill.

Existing legislation is not being effectively used. Hundreds of dangerous incidents are reported annually, but there were no convictions last year using current laws.

It is clear that the police and Crown Office are not giving priority to prosecute using the powers they currently have.

The Criminal Justice Committee is now looking at how we amend the Bill.

Should there be a licensing scheme?

Should individuals be allowed to buy and use fireworks?

Should professional displays be allowed?

I would encourage anyone with views or experiences to get in touch with me on or phone 07385 936839.