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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

PSNI warns of 'robust action' over illegal fireworks

Fireworks in night sky

The PSNI will “take robust action” against the illegal use and sale of fireworks, Mid and East Antrim Community Safety Partnership has been told.

Speaking at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership, PSNI Sergeant Joe George warned officers are able to carry out a “stop and search” in relation to fireworks and can get a warrant to search premises.

Sgt George also said illegal sales of fireworks can be detected through covert test purchases carried out to see if fireworks will be sold to a teenager under 18 years of age. “Fireworks used in a safe and controlled way, that is our goal,” he stated.

Rick Allen, Ballymena Station Commander, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), reiterated fireworks should be bought from a “legitimate retailer” and should be “clearly marked with the CE safety standard”.

He told members and guests at the online public meeting of the NIFRS Halloween safety campaign regarding fireworks, sparklers and fancy dress costumes which is taken to primary and post-primary schools.

Mr Allen reported the NIFRS attends more than 100 incidents every Halloween night. He suggested one person should be in charge of a fireworks display and neighbours should be informed in advance to enable pets to be kept indoors.

He also advised reading fireworks instructions in advance and never return to a lit firework. Sparklers, he said, should never be given to children under the age of five. A bucket of water should be made available.

He also warned fancy dress costumes can be easily set alight and should be kept away from naked flames. He suggested battery lights should be placed in pumpkins as a safer option.

He appealed to motorists and in particular young drivers to reduce speed in residential areas. 

“Halloween means that there will be more children on the streets who will be wearing dark clothing. Children may be distracted and not see you.”

Paul Eden, project co-ordinator, of Carrickfergus YMCA’s Detached Youth Programme, explained the initiative is about “exploring opportunity and seeing potential” through street work and diversionary activities and work carried out in schools.

During the past year, he said on-street engagement has taken place with 3,000 young people across Mid and East Antrim. He reported the team has responded to more than 30 requests regarding anti-social behaviour in specific areas.

In Carrickfergus, these areas were: Marine Gardens; Love Lane; Sunnylands; Woodburn; Castle Car Park and Windmill.

He explained the YMCA team works to establish “positive relationships within the local community” to “get an understanding of local concerns and issues and build up local knowledge”. The YMCA also works with other bodies such as Translink.

In Larne, the YMCA has worked in areas including Linn Glen; Antiville; Craigyhill and Millbrook. He indicated that work has taken place with young people in the town during “bonfire season”. 

“Halloween is one of our busiest times of the year,” he added.

He noted “successful use of caged football around the Twelfth to give young people something to do”, which he said, “allowed staff to build up positive relationships”.

In Ballymena, the YMCA has been working at People’s Park; Smithfield; Broughshane; Harryville; Cullybackey; Kells; Cargan and Ahoghill.  Paul recalled there had been anti-social behaviour in Broughshane “around the village and local bonfire”.

“We started trying to engage to see what the issues were and to establish ourselves. We linked in with local businesses and local people to hear their views. This opened up an opportunity with one of the local churches to run group work.”

Working with the church, the YMCA was able to provide activities such as go-karting and workers were able to address topics such as drugs, alcohol and vaping.

PSNI officer Uel Boyd said Carrickfergus has “benefited massively” from the YMCA team.


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