Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 20 March 2024.

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Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on how many individuals have been charged and successfully prosecuted under any of the provisions in the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022. (S6O-03226)

Photo of Siobhian Brown Siobhian Brown Scottish National Party

Possible offences are investigated independently by Police Scotland and other enforcement agencies. Prosecutions are brought by the independent Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and the courts are independently responsible for their disposal. Up to the end of February 2024, 40 charges had been reported to procurators fiscal under the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022. Of those 40 charges, 20 have thus far been prosecuted. There have been four convictions, two charges did not result in a conviction and the other 14 charges are part of on-going prosecutions. Additionally, 77 charges in which there was an aggravation under section 44 of the 2022 act were reported. Of those charges, eight have been dealt with by way of prosecution and there has been one conviction.

Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

I thank the minister for her update. I am pleased that the aggravator that I introduced to the act is being used successfully to support our emergency services workers.

However, since the 2022 act was passed, there has been a continuation of, and a rise in, the antisocial behaviour that it was designed to eradicate. Pyrotechnics and flares are still being used at football games, and it seems that few arrests have been made off the back of their use, while violent behaviour towards the police and our firefighters in the period around bonfire night last year continued. That kind of behaviour is still on the rise, which is extremely worrying. Is the Scottish Government confident that the provisions in the act are enough to discourage such behaviour? Is the conviction rate up to scratch? Is the 2022 act doing the job that it was intended to do?

Photo of Siobhian Brown Siobhian Brown Scottish National Party

Yes. The legislation will take a while to bed in and to change societal behaviour. From meetings at the Criminal Justice Committee, I remember that Jamie Greene was interested in football banning orders. In February this year, I had a meeting with local football authorities, Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and supporters’ groups in order to take forward our joined-up multi-agency approach to the issue of pyrotechnics at football games.

It was a really positive meeting, at which we shared our clear commitment to tackling the issue, and at which opportunities for future joint working were identified.

Following the meeting, I have asked for a short-life working group on football banning orders to be established to consider the current use of such orders, whether they continue to be fit for purpose and, if not, what changes are required to address problems that present under the current football banning order regime. I am happy to keep Jamie Greene updated on progress with the working group.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

Funding was not in place last year in time for local authorities to decide to use the provisions relating to firework control zones. Is the minister confident that preparation is complete for this year and that local authorities such as Glasgow City Council, which needs those powers, will be more able to use them?

Photo of Siobhian Brown Siobhian Brown Scottish National Party

Yes, I am confident about that. We have received expressions of interest from local authorities for funding for 11 firework control zones. I recognise that it was disappointing that no zones were in place for bonfire night in 2023, but firework control zones have been developed to support a long-term cultural change with regard to fireworks, and were never intended to be a quick fix.

A programme of work has been progressed at pace to commence firework control zone powers in line with the original timescales. Local authorities have been informed of the funding that is available to them, and of how to consult and how to implement the zones. I am positive that they will be in place this year.