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A clampdown on the sale of fireworks to youngsters under the age of 18 has been announced by Hounslow Trading Standards.

Undercover test purchasing, using child volunteers, has already started across the borough. The campaign will form part of a year-round activity to prevent sales of fireworks and other products such as knives, cigarettes, alcohol, restricted age videos, solvents, lighter refills, and aerosol spray paints.

Malcolm Ashton, Hounslow’s Trading Standards Manager, said that sales of these products to young people was recognised as an element of the increase in anti-social behaviour.

“Most members of the community are fed up with the activities of a small minority of troublemakers, and Trading Standards officers will be doing whatever they can to cut off the supply of these products to under-age youngsters.”

Problem areas will be targeted in conjunction with local police forces. “We will investigate any complaints, with further test purchases carried out, and any retailer committing such an offence could face court action,” Mr Ashton continued.

This year, a series of new measures has been introduced to cut down on the potential nuisance of fireworks. It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place, and air bombs, bangers, and mini- rockets have all been banned. Large display (category 4) fireworks can only be supplied to professionals, and a noise limit has been placed on all fireworks available for general sale.

A new curfew of 11pm has also been placed on firework use, with exceptions for a number of set occasions such as November 5th, New Years Eve, Chinese New Year, and Diwali. From January 2005, retailers wishing to store fireworks all year round will need to apply and pay for an additional licence.

In addition to the test purchasing enforcement activity, Hounslow Trading Standards also carries out checks on the safe storage of fireworks. This year, officers are also taking part in a survey to assess the noise levels of the larger fireworks on general sale.

Mr Ashton said he was pleased so far with early indications that retailers were complying with the law and refusing to sell to under-18s.

October 29, 2004