Halloween festivities can be enjoyed by everyone, but for some individuals ‘trick or treating’, bonfires, fireworks and sparklers may result in a rather nasty surprise.
Local Area Commander Chief Inspector Sean Fitzpatrick is appealing for parents, youth and community leaders to assist in making this year’s festivities safe and fun:
“The weeks prior to and after Halloween are becoming an increasingly busy time of the year for Police. We continually receive reports of criminal damage, anti-social behaviour and the misuse of fireworks within Ballymoney area. We want to make it clear that anyone caught breaking the law will be dealt with robustly.
“I would ask parents to make sure they know the whereabouts of their children and to make sure that they are not engaging in any criminal activity or criminal damage to property.”
Individuals are also being urged to pay close attention to their own personal safety, if they intend to be in the vicinity of fireworks, sparklers or bonfires. Fireworks contain explosive, flammable substances, which can cause serious injury to an individual or damage to property. Children using sparklers should also be closely supervised.
Chief Inspector Fitzpatrick explains the measures that are being taken to ensure incidents of criminal damage don’t escalate during the Halloween period:
“High visibility patrols will be operating in hotspot areas to prevent crimes occurring. What might seem like a prank to some young people may actually amount to carrying out an assault or causing criminal damage. Those involved in this type of behaviour will have to face the consequences. We hope that with the support of parents, schools and local community groups we can work to help make Halloween safe and enjoyable.”
The safety advice below can help make Halloween a safe, enjoyable time for everyone. FIREWORKS AND SPARKLERS
Fireworks require a licence - except indoor fireworks and sparklers.
The Explosives (Fireworks) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 came into operation in May 2002 and made it compulsory for anyone wishing to purchase, possess and use fireworks for a garden display to obtain a licence. The fee for a fireworks licence where there are less than 100 spectators is £30; for 100 to 1000 spectators is £80 and for more than 1000 spectators £160.
Licence application forms are available from the NI Direct at: www.nidirect.gov.uk and typing the keyword Fireworks in the search section or by ringing 02890 520057.
Completed application forms (together with the fee) should be sent to Firearms and Explosives Branch, Room B4.22, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SG. In order to process the applications in time for Halloween it would be helpful if they were submitted to the Branch by Thursday 21 October.
It is illegal to possess, purchase, sell, handle or use fireworks except under licence.
Only adults should light or handle fireworks.
Never ever go back to a firework once lit - even if it does not go off.
When watching fireworks, stand well back.
It is an offence to throw fireworks in the street or other public places.
Always supervise children around fireworks.
Never give sparklers to children under the age of five.
Light sparklers one at time and always wear gloves.
Keep a bucket of water close by and put sparklers in it when they go out.
You can be fined up to £5,000 for breaking the law in relation to fireworks.
Make sure the bonfire is located away from houses, buildings and overhead cables.
Keep the bonfire to a manageable size - the bigger the fire the bigger the risk.
Never Sleep in a makeshift hut while the bonfire is being built. This could be fatal if the fire is lit prematurely.
Use petrol or paraffin to light the bonfire. Domestic firelighters are safer.
Use old tyres, tar or scrap rubber on the bonfire. Avoid using foam-filled furniture, aerosols, gas cylinders and paint. Uncontrolled burning of these substances can affect air and water quality and harm the environment.
Police recommend that fireworks should be purchased from reputable licensed dealers, not from market stalls or individuals selling door-to-door. If you have information about illegal fireworks sales contact your local police station. These fireworks may not be British Standard approved and could be extremely dangerous.
The message is simple- enjoy Halloween, but be sensible and don’t break the law.
Further information on the law of fireworks and advice on using fireworks safely can be found at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/fireworks