This is the first year that a new firework code has been in place, as result of a Parliamentary Bill with which I was involved.
The reason that I felt there should be legislation was because more and more people were being disturbed by very loud explosions caused by fireworks throughout the hours of darkness - and sometimes during the day. Many people told me how their pets and domestic animals were frightened by the noise. After all, it is expected that there will be firework displays on Guy Fawkes Night, but owners cannot take precautions if they do not know there will be fireworks on other occasions.
The measures which came into force in August this year do not aim to spoil the fun of firework displays, but put some controls into place to stop nuisance and unnecessary annoyance.
As a general rule, there is now a curfew on setting off fireworks between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. On Guy Fawkes Night, displays can go on until midnight, while for New Year’s Eve, Diwali or the Chinese New Year, the curfew is 1 a.m.
Anyone convicted of breaking the curfew could be fined up to £5000 or sentenced to six months in prison – in the eyes of the law, this is not a minor offence.
Retailers will no longer be able to sell fireworks louder than 120 decibels.
Under 18s are barred from possessing fireworks. Police and community support officers may give them fixed penalty notices for breaking the curfew or for carrying fireworks in a public place.
Overall, the aim is to curb the anti-social use of fireworks, so that they remain part of enjoyable festivals for everybody.