Plea to parents to help reduce arson

Bin FireParents are being urged to help tackle arson as Cleveland Fire Brigade clamps down on the cost of deliberate fires during the long summer holidays.

The appeal comes after latest figures show that fire setters cost Cleveland nearly £900,000 during the 2015 holiday break.

Buildings, wheelie bins, rubbish and grasslands have all been targeted in recent years. Deliberate fires divert resources away from real emergencies where lives may be at risk.

Cleveland Fire Brigade is urging parents to know where their children are during the school holidays and to make sure they stay out of trouble.

Last summer (July 11 to September 7) there were 448 deliberate fires – a 31% increase on the same period in 2014.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “The long summer holidays and longer days can sometimes tempt totally irresponsible behaviour that is a blight on the community and can cause serious damage.

“We are urging parents to make sure they know where their youngsters are and to keep them out of trouble. The last thing you would want is your child to end up with a criminal record.

“We are working closely with the police and immediate action will be taken against anyone involved with deliberately starting a fire. Clearing up arson costs thousands of pounds and can take our firefighters away from vital life-saving protection work or attending real emergencies.

“Arson will not be tolerated. We want everyone to enjoy the summer but to be responsible.”

During summer 2015 there were 152 deliberate fires in Middlesbrough; 146 in Redcar and Cleveland, 82 in Stockton and 68 in Hartlepool.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Glen Westmoreland, from Cleveland Police, said: “Arsonists put lives in danger. Young people need to take responsibility for their actions and realise that they could take someone’s life, which could ultimately cost them their freedom.

“There is no excuse for starting fires and parents need to ensure that youngsters are being responsible and sensible.”

If anyone has any information about arson or anti-social behaviour in their area, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Police on 101.