Bang to rights: fireworks louts face instant £80 fines

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The Independent Online

It could suddenly be a lot quieter at bedtime. A new law means that, from now on, Guy Fawkes Night will not now be every night.

It could suddenly be a lot quieter at bedtime. A new law means that, from now on, Guy Fawkes Night will not now be every night.

One of the scourges of autumn for householders and pets - louts who let off fireworks late at night - face a police crackdown. From midnight tonight it will be illegal to let off fireworks between 11pm and 7am. Offenders face an instant, £80 fine. The experience of trying to get to sleep while it sounds as if your road is coming under mortar attack could thus become a thing of the past.

The move, which comes three weeks ahead of Bonfire Night, is part of a government drive to tackle anti-social behaviour. Police will be able to impose fixed-penalty notices on anyone causing a nuisance by setting off fireworks late at night, except on special occasions such as Guy Fawkes Night, New Year's Eve and Diwali. Children under the age of 18, who are already barred from using fireworks in public, will also be targeted under the new measures.

Offenders who refuse to pay the fines will face an increased penalty of £120, court action and, ultimately, jail if they fail to pay up.

For the most serious fireworks offences, the police will retain the power to prosecute offenders with penalties of a £5,000 fine as well as six months in prison. Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, said: "Law-abiding families should not have to live in fear of yobs throwing firecrackers."