Young footballers are defending their own communities by helping Cleveland Fire Brigade kick arson into touch. The Brigade has teamed up with the Middlesbrough FC Foundation Premier League Kicks programme where more than 1,000 young people are taking part in free sessions across the region.
They will be wearing specially designed bibs with the words “Kick Arson Into Touch” and “Defend Your Community” prominently displayed. The scheme is one of the flagship community programmes across the country run by the Premier League.
Sessions are held across ten different venues with many taking place in areas where the largest number of deliberate fires were recorded last year. Fire Brigade staff and crews will pop along to give first-hand advice on the dangers of arson.
The campaign comes at a time when then latest figures show a rise in the number of deliberate fires across Cleveland. In the last three years there has been a 35% rise with 2704 recorded in 2016/17 compared to 3658 in 2018/19.
From April to June this year there have been 1,249 deliberate fires, compared to 884 for the same period last year – a 41% increase.
Steve Johnson, Area Manager, Prevention and Protection, said: “We take deliberate fires very seriously. These fires can be extremely dangerous and spread quickly. They have devastating effects on the environment, our communities and can potential cause serious injuries. They also divert our resources away from real emergencies where lives may be at risk.
“This is a first class initiative which will help keep young people on the ball and away from anti-social behaviour. We want everyone to be part of a winning team when it comes to keeping our communities safe for everybody. This is a powerful way to get the message across”.
The Middlesbrough FC Premier League Kicks starts again on 9 September and also runs during the school holidays until May 2020. It is aimed at young people aged 8 – 19.
The programme was formerly branded as Kickz and began in London as a pilot project between the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police with a vision to “build safer, stronger and more respectful communities.” It is now delivered in 69 areas across the country and has achieved notable results in reducing anti-social behaviour.