Bonfire Night and Halloween

Celebrating Bonfire Night GOV.uk advice

Parents should take responsibility for their children's behaviour - know where they are at all times, and follow a few key dos and don'ts.

Do:

• Only trick or treat in your own neighbourhood unless you're with an adult
• Stay in well lit areas where there are plenty of houses
• Make sure an adult knows the area you plan to visit and what time you'll be back
• Look out for 'no callers please' posters and respect your neighbours
• Keep to pavements and trick or treat on one side of the street before crossing safely to the other side - don't criss-cross
• Wait to eat any treats until you get home so that an adult can check them

Don't:

• Don't cut through back alleys, ginnels or fields, and don't trick or treat too far from home
• Don't go alone - take an adult with you or stay in a group

If you do decide to go trick or treating, please respect the wishes of householders who do not wish to take part, and please do not use the season as an excuse for anti-social or intimidating behaviour.

Even if you are not involved in trick or treating, bear in mind the following:

• Not everyone appreciates trick or treaters. To prevent unwanted ghosts and ghouls, put a 'no callers' note on your front door. 
• If you are prepared to receive the local monsters, switch on your outside light and remove any trip hazards. If you set lanterns outside your front door with candles in them, make sure that they are far enough out of the way so that costumes won't accidentally be set on fire.
• If you are driving on the evening of the 31st, remember that excited children don't always do as they are expected, so slow down in residential areas and take extra care.
• If things get out of hand, you feel intimidated, or someone's safety is at risk, contact Police on 101.

Fireworks

Fireworks are widely used for celebrations such as Bonfire Night and New Year and can provide a spectacular show. However they can be dangerous if used incorrectly and anyone buying or lighting fireworks should follow the Fireworks Code:

  • Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114
  • Don't drink alcohol if you are setting off fireworks
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box
  • Follow the instructions carefully on each firework
  • Light at arms length, and always use a taper
  • Stand well back
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn't gone off, it could still explode
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • Always supervise children around fireworks
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Never give sparklers to a child under five
  • Keep pets indoors

Fireworks and the law

  • It is an offence to sell fireworks to any person under the age of 18
  • It is an offence for any person under the age of 18 to possess a firework.
  • It is an offence to possess any excessively loud category 3 or 4 (display style) firework
  • It is an offence to sell any firework (subject to certain exceptions) without a licence granted by the Fireworks Regulations 2004
  • It is an offence for any person to use a firework between the hours of 11pm and 7am. Bonfire night is extended to 12 midnight.
  • It is an offence to throw or fire a firework in or into any highway, street or public place.
  • It is an offence to make a bonfire or discharge a firework in a street to the obstruction, annoyance or danger of residents or passersby

Breaking the law can result in a maximum penalty of £5000 and/or a prison sentence.

Fireworks and bonfires FAQs

Lighting a bonfire in itself is not illegal, it is the smoke that can be a statutory nuisance. The environmental health department of your local authority will be able to take action if the smoke from the bonfire is classed as a statutory nuisance. You need to record the details of who is lighting the fires, what time, what the effects were and your details.

If the fires are very irregular then it is unlikely that the council will take any action. The council can stop the person from committing a statutory nuisance and failure to comply can lead to prosecution.

See the Citizens Advice bureau's website for further information.

It is an offence to:

• possess adult fireworks (all fireworks except party poppers and sparklers) in a public place by anyone under the age of 18
• possess category 4 fireworks (professional display fireworks) by anyone other than a fireworks professional
• it is illegal to supply adult fireworks to those under 18

There is a curfew on the use of adult fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on;

• Bonfire night (when the curfew is between 12midnight and 7am)
• New Years Eve (when the curfew is between 1am and 7am)
• Chinese New Year (when the curfew is between 1am and 7am)
• Diwali night (when the curfew is between 1am and 7am)

Fireworks can be used between 7am and 11pm but you could also commit offences if you were to use them in such a manner as to cause a nuisance.

It is an offence to throw or set off fireworks in any highway, street, thoroughfare or public space.

It is also an offence to discharge any firearm or firework (without lawful authority or excuse) within 50 feet of the centre of a highway which consists of or comprises a carriageway.

It is an offence to throw a firework in the street, a thoroughfare or public place. Police forces can deal with this offence with a Penalty Notice for Disorder (£80) or through the courts (a fine not exceeding £5,000). However, Penalty Notices for Disorder can only be given to persons over 16 years old.

There are rules about letting off fireworks (except for gun caps and throwdowns). The law states that it is not permissible to let off fireworks after 11pm at night up until 7am the next day except for on certain days. These days are 5th November, when fireworks are permitted until midnight, Chinese New Year, Diwali and New Years Eve when fireworks are permitted until 1am the next day. The penalties for this offence are imprisonment (maximum 6 months) and a substantial fine.