Ban on audience pyrotechnics moves closer in the UK

August 2016

Live events sector


MPs have supported a law banning flares and fireworks from UK music concerts and festivals. Conservative MP Nigel Adams put forward the amendment to the Police and Crime Bill, which would make it illegal for concert-goers to carry pyrotechnics including flares, fireworks and smoke bombs into a venue. Flares have been banned at sporting events since 1985. It is a criminal offence to enter or attempt to enter a football ground while in possession of a flare, smoke bomb or firework, punishable by up to three months in prison. The same penalties would now apply to concerts. Football fans in breach of the law have also found themselves banned from football grounds for up to six years. Currently, it is not illegal for fans to bring smoke bombs, flares and fireworks into a concert venue unless it can be proved they intend to cause harm to other people. UK Music, Live Nation and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have all supported the move, with Bestival co-founder Rob da Bank saying “there are increasingly more incidents and the time is right for the Government to act and support organisers in minimising risk” and  UK Music CEO Jo Dipple said “Safety at live music events is paramount,”  adding “Music fans should be protected from risks that could result in significant harm.
Adams, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Music, told Parliament “Nobody should be seriously burned as part of a fun afternoon or evening,” he said in Parliament and argued that most people using such devices were not doing so out of “malice” but “boneheaded disregard for others [and] stupidity”. He cited the example of an 18-year-old girl who attended an Arctic Monkeys concert and required three dressings to burns on her arms from a flare that had been thrown and a 17-year-old girl at Reading Festival who suffered a panic attack after being burned by a smoke bomb across her abdomen and her thighs and cited reports of 255 incidents involving incendiary devices taking place at music events in 2014, whereas only three such incidents took place at football grounds in the same time period.
Mr Adams stressed that the proposals would not affect the use of on-stage pyrotechnics by bands and festival organisers. Ministers have accepted the amendment which should now enter law.

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