Work is under way to implement the remaining provisions in the 2022 act so that further positive change takes place for communities as soon as possible. Although the 2022 act sets out the core elements and functions of the licensing system, further work is required to operationalise it. That includes progressing regulations to set out the administrative details, which will be widely consulted on, as well as the development of an information technology system. Therefore, in line with the timescales that were set out when the act was introduced, the earliest that the system will be in place is late 2023 or early 2024.
The scenes of antisocial behaviour that have been witnessed, including in Glasgow, are unacceptable. The Scottish National Party’s flawed fireworks bill could have prevented thugs who commit antisocial behaviour from purchasing fireworks, but the SNP rejected our amendments that would have enabled that.
Does the minister still believe that people who have been convicted of antisocial behaviour should be able to buy fireworks?
As part of the licensing conditions, those who have been found guilty of antisocial behaviour will have to disclose that when they are applying for a licence. Police Scotland has confirmed that it has made 18 arrests following recent public disorder incidents.
We understand that fires and fire-related calls on 5 November were down by 10 per cent on last year’s figure, to just over 500. We also understand that the decline in the number of calls on 4 November was even steeper.
After the night, the gold commanders told us that the new legislation was hugely helpful to them.
The licensing system will put in place robust checks and balances before someone is permitted to purchase, possess and use fireworks in Scotland. Mandatory elements such as the training course and the requirement to disclose relevant convictions upon application will ensure that licence-holders know how to use fireworks in a safe, lawful and considerate manner. The measures that are set out in the groundbreaking legislation, combined with the wider activities that are set out in the fireworks action plan—such as education and awareness raising with our partners—are part of our holistic approach to addressing the harm and distress that fireworks can cause.
Edinburgh has recently seen evidence of the damage that the reckless use of fireworks can do in conjunction with antisocial behaviour. Now that there is a legislative framework for a licensing scheme, can the minister give assurances that Police Scotland has the necessary resources to enforce the law as it was passed by the Parliament?
At this stage, we are not in the budgetary process, but we will take that into consideration. We absolutely want the police to be able to respond and implement the act that we have passed.