Brigade launches arson campaign

A NEW campaign aimed at putting a stop to arson across Cleveland will be launched by Cleveland Fire Brigade this Friday (July 20).

Figures released by the Brigade show that last year (2011/12) arson was responsible for three-quarters of fire-related incidents and cost the local economy £16.7m – an average of £321,524 per week.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the start of the summer school holidays when the number of arson incidents normally increase.

The location for the campaign launch is Eston Hills – the scene of 240 fires last year – when firefighters will come together with Cleveland Police and council neighbourhood officers to highlight the dangers of arson.

In total last year there were 3,029 arson incidents across Cleveland and Phil Lancaster, the Brigade’s Director of Community Protection, said that firefighters will be working flat out with other key organisations to continue to drive the figures down.

Mr Lancaster said: “Deliberate fire setting ruins lives, ruins communities, ruins local businesses and we are encouraging people to say ‘Enough is Enough’. Why should the people of this area put up with this sort of behaviour? Deliberate lighting of any fires will not and should not be tolerated by anyone and we have this message  – we are watching you and you will be caught.

“Although we have seen a reduction in the number of incidents of arson, the large majority of fires in the Cleveland area are still arson-related and we are determined to do everything we can to put an end to it.

“We’ve chosen the launch venue because this area is regularly targeted by arsonists. During the campaign we’ll be adopting a very high profile, particularly in areas like Eston Hills, educating people about the dangers, how arson can kill and how people can support us in saying enough is enough.

“As well as having a detrimental affect on the environment, we’ve seen examples in Cleveland recently when arson has had a devastating impact on businesses and the communities they serve.”

Mr Lancaster went on to say that the Brigade would continue to work closely with the Police to bring suspected arsonists before the courts.

“We have an excellent working relationship with the Police and our partner organisations, and our highly trained and experienced arson investigators will continue to work in collaboration to do everything we can to prevent arson and to ensure all incidents are fully investigated – arsonists will be caught and prosecuted.

“We do however need the support of our communities to stop starting fires in the first place and to report any suspected arsonists confidentially by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can also sign our e-petition to say ‘enough is enough’ at www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/stop.”

This campaign includes a full programme of diversionary activities for youngsters over the summer, community patrols, posters, leaflets, radio advertising and online activities.

For further information, visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/arson or join us on Facebook or Twitter.