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Police must enforce law against fireworks—Browne

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

PNM MP Dr Amery Browne says the police need to do their job and enforce the law to stop citizens from illegally setting off fireworks and other explosives during the season. In a phone interview yesterday, Browne said: “It is clear this trade contributes to a lot of illegal activity. These same distributors sponsor events when at the end of the day their trade encourages citizens to make poor choices and waste their money on questionable pleasure.



“There is big business in it (fireworks) and contributors to political funding contribute to a negative cycle in this society,” he said. “It seems the hands of the police are tied with wanton behaviour and pollution of the environment. Citizens complain for weeks and the recourse is a press conference, when their job is to enforce the law like littering and other misdemeanours,” he said. He said parents should teach children to invest in their future rather than igniting it with a flash of flight, a loud bang and smoke.


Browne said a number of people went to medical institutions for emergency care for severe and minor injuries after using a range of explosive devices. “Pipe bombs, scratch bombs, bamboo bursting, flares and other devices—there is a wide range, all of which are dangerous explosives to varying extents. It appears it is open season and a free-for-all with regard to the sale and use and they have become more popular,” he said. Browne said bamboo bursting was popular when he was a child but this had evolved into fireworks. 


“Now it happens early hours of night and it is continuous. It is traumatic to elderly, pets and citizens who want a peaceful existence,” he said. Browne said some of the people who were injured were bystanders and did not receive compensation for their injuries. “When injuries occur there is no insurance to assist with rehabilitation and plastic surgery, and the importers and distributors are nowhere,” he said. 


“The police have turned a blind eye to this and are posturing in their press conferences. Citizens made repeated reports about this. It even happens in their yard and no one responded.”



Police: Use them safely 
At the police press conference yesterday, information officer ASP Joanne Archie reminded the public about safe practices during this season. “With respect to the letting off of fireworks, please be advised that Under Sections 99 and 100 of the Summary Offences Act 11:02, it is an offence to throw, cast, set fire to, or let off any fireworks into, or upon any street not being in any town, or into, in, or upon any place being within 60 feet of the centre of any such street.” 


Archie said anyone who contravened the act was liable to a fine of $400. Under the Fireworks Permit Regulation, the Commissioner of Police or a superintendent could grant written permission to use fireworks in a town. Applications must be made in writing 48 hours in advance and must give details of the kind of fireworks and where they are to be used. But acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said: “I don’t issue any licence. The Ministry of National Security issues it.”



Ministry: Ask police or magistrates
When contacted, the ministry said a licence to sell fireworks could be issued by the district magistrate. A source at the magistracy said citizens could apply for a licence to sell and the district magistrate would grant the licence once there was no objection from the police or Fire Service. “To use it is a matter for the police and how they make that determination in the discharge of the explosive,” he said. The EMA messaged on a social Web site that complaints could be made by e-mail at: [email protected].


“For continuous noise please send us your noise complaints. Remember the TTPS can also take action against noise.” In an advertisement in the daily papers, the TTSPCA encouraged citizens to secure their pets, particularly during the celebrations, when dogs often go astray. 


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