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Campaign helps Bonfire Night go with a bang
Tuesday 30th October, 2012

Even one victim of firework burns is one victim too many.

That’s the uncompromising message behind Operation Treacle, a multi-agency campaign which aims to help communities stay safe over the Bonfire Night period by cracking down on reckless and anti-social behaviour.

In a bid to reduce firework-related incidents, Wigan Council Trading Standards officers are urging retailers across the borough to be vigilant against underage sales. In addition to fireworks, the campaign will also target irresponsible retailers who sell alcohol and tobacco products to children.

Trading Standards officers are currently working with underage volunteers as part of an undercover ‘test purchase’ exercise, which involves the volunteer attempting to purchase prohibited goods from shops and stores. The proactive measure has proven highly effective in the past and has led to a number of successful prosecutions against retailers who disregard the law.

It is a criminal offence to sell fireworks to any person under 18 and, if convicted, you could be left with a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000 or a prison sentence of up to 6 months.

Julie Middlehurst, Trading Standards manager, says:
“Retailers that 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 Trading Standards team recommend that retailers adopt a "25's policy". This policy asks the member of staff to consider whether the customer looks 25. If the answer is ‘no’, then they should ask for ID to prove they are 18.

Meanwhile, officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have recently completed their run of school assemblies which featured a hard-hitting presentation including graphic images of firework injuries.

Steve Sheridan, Wigan Borough Commander for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, adds: “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 in helping young people stay safe4autumn.”

Operation Treacle is supported by safe4autumn.com – a dedicated website which encourages young people to get involved in positive activities and attend organised firework displays. Details of activities can be found at www.wigan.gov.uk/safe4autumn and on the Linc Website at www.wlct.org/linconline

For more information about Operation Treacle log onto www.safe4autumn.com

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