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Patrols stepped up to ensure fireworks safety 23 October 2008

Joint fireworks patrolsA SERIES of high-profile community patrols will be carried out in the run-up to bonfire night in a bid to combat the irresponsible use of fireworks.

Police officers and firefighters will target hot-spot areas as part of a joint campaign aimed at reducing the risk of injuries and the nuisance caused to local residents. Members of the Island’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams have warned that any anti-social behaviour involving fireworks could lead to a prosecution.

Fireworks go on sale in the Isle of Man this Saturday (October 25) at retailers licensed by the Office of Fair Trading. Inspections have been conducted by OFT staff in partnership with officers from the IoM Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that local premises comply with fire safety regulations.

The purchase of fireworks is restricted to over 18s and retailers in the Douglas and Eastern regions are being encouraged to distribute safety leaflets with every sale. The education side of the joint initiative is being supported by an enforcement operation involving both high-visibility and covert patrols.

Extra resources will be positioned in Douglas and Onchan as those areas have experienced the highest number of incidents and complaints about fireworks in recent years. Officers from the Douglas and Eastern NPTs will be joined by firefighters in a command unit vehicle that has the capacity to record CCTV footage.

Uniformed and plain clothes foot patrols will be deployed in areas that have previously been affected by instances of criminal damage. Special constables and community volunteers are also set to play a major part in the operation which is aimed at curbing anti-social behaviour, reducing crime and disorder and improving the relationship with the public and local businesses.

Officers will confiscate fireworks from anybody under the age of 18, while those found to be acting irresponsibly with fireworks could face further action. Proactive policing will see litter bins removed from problem areas for the duration of the safety campaign following discussions between Braddan Commissioners, Douglas Corporations and both policing teams. Bins have been damaged in the past by people using them to launch fireworks.

Notices will also be erected around Marine Drive to discourage the use of fireworks as this has the potential to cause gorse fires or lead to stray rockets being confused for distress flares launched from a vessel at sea.

Acting Sergeant Rosie Hawes of the Eastern NPT said:

‘The main aim of this operation is to target the groups most at risk of injury in the coming weeks and to encourage people to stay safe. Finding young people in possession of fireworks is effectively teenagers being on the streets with an explosive device which is very worrying. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun but we do want to protect them, sometimes from themselves, and reduce both the injuries that fireworks can cause and the amount of nuisance caused to other residents.’

Sergeant Wendy Barker of the Douglas Community Support Team added:

‘Taking fireworks into Douglas town centre and acting irresponsibly with them has major implications, not only the risk of injury to passers-by but also damage to vehicles and property in the area. Anybody found throwing or acting irresponsibly with fireworks in public places will be dealt with accordingly and may find themselves appearing at court.’

Members of the public have also been reminded that fireworks cannot be set off after Friday, November 7. Consequently, any bonfire parties scheduled to take place on November 7 that are disrupted by inclement weather cannot be rearranged for the following night (Saturday, November 8) unless previously notified to the Department of Home Affairs.

Photo (left-right) Sgt Mike Crompton, ENPT, Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper, Crime Prevention Officer Mike Radcliffe, Sgt Wendy Barker, Douglas Community Support Team, Inspector Helen Mason, ENPT, Chief Coastguard Colin Finney, Acting Sgt Rosie Hawes, ENPT.

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