What does the Law say about Bonfire Night?

On 5th November people across the UK celebrated Bonfire Night. There were small firework parties in back gardens, along with big organised displays in public parks. The reason we do it is because it's the anniversary of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament led by a man called Guy Fawkes, but what does the law say about this festival?

There are no explosive Bonfire Night specific laws; however, we do need to consider Anti-Social Behaviour Laws. Anti-social Behaviour is any action that harms or lacks consideration for the well-being of others. This includes public nuisance and disorder which can be common around events such as this, especially with the craze of lighting up fireworks and setting them off into the night sky, or the next door neighbour’s garden.

If someone is fulfilling the criteria of Anti-Social Behaviour such as nuisance, vandalism, street drinking, environmental damage including littering, and fireworks misuse then there are steps the police can take (according to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act) to prevent these offensive acts. However, many people don’t realise it, but a number of agencies, in particular your local government (your local council) and social landlords all have a range of powers to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour. This is because Anti-Social Behaviour can take many different forms and different bodies have different responsibilities depending on the nature of the incident. Anti-social behaviour is something that should be taken seriously and local authorities and the police should treat any Anti-Social Behaviour problem that is affecting you or your family seriously. You should most certainly expect them to take the appropriate action and respond back to you professionally on what they do to address these concerns.

What happens if you feel as though nothing has been done after you have submitted your report? Can you complain to your Council through their complaints procedure? In order to give more powers to local communities, the Community Trigger was introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014). The Community Trigger gives victims of Anti -Social Behaviour who feel as though their case has been ignored the right to demand action from local agencies, starting with a review of your case, where the locally defined threshold is met.

With all of this being said there are a few laws on fireworks. If you are under 18 you are not allowed to buy adult fireworks and it is also against the law to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on certain occasions such as Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight. Adult fireworks are category 2 and 3 fireworks - they don’t include things like party poppers.

Finally, the rules on buying fireworks - the Law firmly states you can only buy fireworks (including sparklers) from registered sellers for private use on the following dates 15th October to 10th November, 26th to 31st December and lastly 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year. At other times during the year you can purchase fireworks from licensed shops. Go against any of these terms and you can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally.

Know the law on fireworks.

By Thomas Spicer, Brand Ambassor for Paul Robinson Solicitors and Student