The Home Office last week introduced an offence under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 which means that any member of the public found guilty of possessing pyrotechnics such as flares, fireworks and smoke bombs at a festival or music event could face up to three months in prison.
The provision does not seek to ban artists and event organisers from using pyrotechnics as part of shows. The definition of a qualifying music event is directly linked to the licensing act and essentially applies to any event that takes place on licensed premises.
According to security provider Showsec, in 2014 there were 255 recorded incidents of a member of public discharging a flare or smoke bomb at a live music event in 2014, compared to just three at football grounds during the same period- though the stat seems a little suspect given that there have been several reports of the use of flares at Anfield alone in the last year year, causing Liverpool FC to employ sniffer dogs and issuing a statement informing fans that if these use pyro, they will indeed walk alone.
Melvin Benn, MD of Live Nation subsidiary Festival Republic, which organises events such as Reading, Leeds and Latitude festivals said: “We commend the government for taking decisive action to give the music industry the powers it needs to tackle this issue and we are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Home Office to make this ban a reality”.
Benn continued: “Safety of our patrons is of utmost importance to us and now music fans will have the same protection as football fans, with the ability to enjoy themselves without worrying about the misuse of these dangerous items which can cause significant distress and injury”.
The move brings music events in line with restrictions on football grounds where it became an offence in January 1987 under the aptly named Sporting Events Act 1985. Nigel Adams MP originally raised the ban as a Ten Minute Rule Motion in the House of Commons last year.
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