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6 November 2020
The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has called for an urgent review into the sale of fireworks following a series of shocking incidents where they were thrown at emergency workers and members of the public.
John Apter, PFEW National Chair, said: “The dangerous, irresponsible and unlawful use of fireworks we have seen over recent days can no longer be ignored.
“We have witnessed numerous pitched battles in the streets with fireworks being used as a weapon of choice and fired indiscriminately at police officers. This is not just a ‘bit of fun’ it is a serious issue which can, and does, lead to people being badly injured.
“The current legislation is clearly not fit for purpose, and there must be a comprehensive and urgent review which should include the availability of over the counter fireworks.
“I am aware this matter has been raised in Parliament many times, but nothing has happened. This position is not sustainable for an apparently civilised society.”
Chaotic scenes unfolded during Halloween weekend and on bonfire night across the country as emergency workers and innocent bystanders were targeted in a spate of firework attacks.
Last night, officers from Lancashire had to take cover inside their van as ‘rockets’ were fired by youths as they were waiting for firefighters to assist with extinguishing a blaze.
There were numerous reports of them being launched at officers and firefighters in Wales, while officers from Merseyside were attacked when responding to reports of a large gathering in the Woodchurch area of Birkenhead just before 9pm.
A firework exploded inside an officer’s car in Sheffield after groups of people were throwing the explosives at parked vehicles on Halloween weekend. Luckily the officer was not harmed and got out of the vehicle in time.
Violent groups in Woolwich, London, were aiming them at buses and people and in Manchester ‘rockets’ were shot through families’ windows.
Mr Apter continued: “On behalf of my colleagues, I will be raising my concerns directly with the Home Secretary and senior leaders within policing to see what we can do to stem the increasingly criminal and inappropriate use of fireworks at this time of the year.
“This violent behaviour towards emergency service workers, who are doing their jobs and helping people in need, is totally unacceptable. There must be harsher punishments to send a clear and unequivocal message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated,” he concluded.