TRADERS in West Yorkshire have been caught selling fireworks illegally.
Fireworks went on sale a week ago and traders were reminded by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service not to sell them to anyone under 18.
But 86 recent spot-checks by trading standards officers revealed 10% of West Yorkshire shops had sold air bombs, rockets, fountains, Roman candles, sparklers and even a large display firework to youngsters under 18.
In Kirklees, two out of 23 shops had sold fireworks to a 14-year-old girl.
The service is so concerned by the findings that further spot-checks are being planned.
Chief Trading Standards Officer for West Yorkshire, Martin Wood, said: "Despite an intensive programme of advisory visits and a regular flow of information to retailers, it looks like the message is not getting through.
"I will have no hesitation in taking legal proceedings against anyone found selling fireworks to children."
Clr Graham Clarke, chairman of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: "We must do everything we can to stop this illegal trade. We must protect our youngsters from injury and our elderly and vulnerable citizens who are plagued by the constant nuisance and noise."
As well as warning retailers, the service is offering advice to people on how to stay safe with fireworks. West Yorkshire Fire Service has also offered guidance.
The advice includes:
* Fireworks should only be bought from legitimate retailers, suit the size of the garden, and conform to British safety standards.
* Neighbours should be warned of fireworks display plans - and avoid setting off noisy fireworks after 11pm.
* One person should take responsibility for the fireworks, which should be kept in a closed metal box. This person should avoid drinking alcohol.
* Bonfires should be built 18 metres from houses, trees, hedges, fences or sheds and should be lit only with domestic fire-lighters - not petrol or paraffin.
* Anyone setting off fireworks should wear eye protection, have a good light to read instructions and have a bucket of water on hand.
* Supports for Catherine wheels and launching stands for rockets should be checked and other fireworks should be firmly stuck in a bucket of soil.
* Fireworks should be lit at arm's length - and never return to a lit firework which fails to go off.
* Spectators should stay well back and pets should be kept indoors.
* Sparklers should not be given to children under five and older children should wear gloves. Used sparklers should be put hot end down into a bucket of sand or water.
* After the display, tongs or gloves should be used when picking up fireworks.
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