Police warn of the dangers of counterfeit fireworks ahead of Bonfire Night

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The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is urging people to buy their Bonfire Night fireworks from legitimate sellers.

With organised firework displays cancelled this year due to Covid-19, the City of London Police and the British Fireworks Association are asking the public to think twice about where they buy their fireworks from, and to consider celebrating in a different way that poses less risk.

Last week, officers from PIPCU stopped a van driving around different areas of the North West selling counterfeit fireworks. The van was seized as well as £4,000 worth of fake fireworks.

Peter Ratcliffe, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said: “As public firework displays aren’t taking place this year and many still want to celebrate, we urge you to buy from legitimate firework sellers, and make sure you have checked all the safety advice and Covid-19 guidelines before having a home fireworks display.

“A home firework display can impact significantly on your safety, your community, your neighbours, animals and the environment.

“The dangers of buying fake fireworks cannot be underestimated, with potentially devastating consequences for public safety. It is vital that consumers are extra careful and double check where they buy their fireworks from.

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“Remember that fireworks are explosives, and as such should be treated with respect and only used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the Firework Code.”

Legitimate fireworks pose a serious risk to the public if not used correctly, and counterfeit fireworks are even worse. They won’t have been through the same rigorous testing as genuine fireworks, the chemicals within them could be harmful, the packaging may not meet safety standards, and the instructions will not have been tested.

PIPCU is also warning the public that there are many risks when buying counterfeit fireworks on marketplaces, websites and social media.

When buying items online, people will part with personal details including banking details, which allow fraudsters to set up new websites selling counterfeit products in the victim’s name.

Steve Raper, Chairman of the British Firework Association said: “The BFA advice is only buy from shops which you recognise or feel will still be around after Bonfire Night – and never from the back of vans. Only use web sites belonging to firework companies and avoid buying via social media.

“Always read the instructions printed on every firework – if they are not clear or not in English they may be illegal.”

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