Fireworks warning to shopkeepers

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SHOPKEEPERS in Wigan are being warned they will be found out if they sell fireworks to under-age youngsters as part of a major operation to reduce injuries and anti-social behaviour this Bonfire Night.

Wigan Trading Standards will be sending teams of teenage volunteers to places selling fireworks to attempt to test purchase objects they are not old enough to buy.

Under-age shoppers will also be touring the borough attempting to catch out retailers allowing the under-aged to buy tobacco and alcohol as part of Operation Treacle, a massive crackdown on firework-related incidents.

It is against the law to sell fireworks to anyone under 18, and shopkeepers who illegally sell to youngsters face a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000 or a prison sentence of up to six months. Shopkeepers are being advised to adopt a 25s policy, which will see anyone who looks under 25 asked to show valid ID.

Trading Standards manager Julie Middlehurst said: “Retailers who sell age-restricted products to children need to be reminded of the risks and potential consequences.

“In young hands, fireworks, alcohol and tobacco are dangerous. Their misuse can lead to tragic accidents, risks to personal safety, long term health implications and anti-social behaviour, which affects the entire community.

“If your job involves the sale of age-restricted goods, we urge you to take the appropriate steps to ensure you do not fall foul of the law.”

The borough’s emergency services have also been working to reduce the hazards of Bonfire Night, with the fire service holding a series of shock-tactic assemblies in schools across Wigan showing pupils graphic images of people who have been injured by fireworks.

Borough manager Steve Sheridan said: “Even fire officers with years of experience under their belt are sickened when they are called to a firework injury, particularly those involving a child. It’s sadly often down to sheer recklessness. But victims have to live with the scars for the rest of their lives. I want this year’s Treacle season to be the safest ever in the borough and call upon agencies, parents and teachers to play their part.”

Operation Treacle is also being supported by the website safe4autumn and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, which is arranging a series of activities for young people across the borough. For more information, visit www.wlct.org/linconline or www.safe4autumn.com.