Underage sales of fireworks

Firework test purchases at 23 firework retailers in the Highlands using a number of young volunteers, aged 15 and 16, have revealed a failure of three retailers in Highland to restrict the sale of fireworks to children and young people.

Nigel MacKenzie, Head of Trading Standards with The Highland Council, said: "The detection of this illegal activity would not have been possible without the recent authorisation by the Lord Advocate for us to use the services of young people in this way.

"Those young people involved deserve the thanks of the community in being willing to undertake this work with our officers. They have all behaved admirably throughout and did an excellent job. It should be noted that at no time were they asked to or did anything other than be entirely honest if asked about their age, which perhaps tells you something about the attitude of those few retailers who sold the fireworks to them.

"There are a number of excellent schemes currently in use that any shopkeeper can use in order to obtain proof of age. Anyone who sells any of the significant number of age restricted products on the market and who doesn't use one of these schemes is simply asking for trouble. If any retailer wants details of these schemes they are invited to contact the Council's Trading Standards Unit, Tel. 01463 228700 or by e-mail to trading.standards@highland.gov.uk.

Councillor David Munro, the Council’s spokesman on Consumer Protection and Public Health issues, said: "The majority of retailers have demonstrated that they are willing to comply with the law and to do what they can to help stop fireworks getting into the hands of our young people. But a few have let both the community and themselves down badly."

Statistics for Scotland show that on average more than 70% of all firework related injuries are suffered by young people under 21 with 60% or more being suffered by under 16s.

It is also within these age groups that the majority of all the nuisance and vandalism caused by fireworks use is reported to be associated.

When compared with the overall picture in Scotland where 188 shops were visited by Trading Standards in the run up to and beyond November 5th, the situation in Highland is on average little different to the national picture. In 12 of the 32 Scottish Local Authorities, where test purchasing took place, 29 (i.e. 15%) of the 188 shops sold fireworks to the underage volunteers.

Please contact Gordon Robb, Principal Trading Standards Officer tel. 01463 228721 or e-mail gordon.robb@highland.gov.uk if you have any queries in relation to this media release.

19 Apr 2006