How fire brigade worked with 'main culprit' to reduce South Tyneside anti-social behaviour blazes

Fire brigade chiefs have had success in South Tyneside reducing anti-social behaviour fires in the region by working with a “main culprit” responsible.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 3:39 pm
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority bosses heard this week how work is being carried out to help clampdown on deliberate secondary fires – which include grass, refuse and empty property blazes – across the whole region.

The policy and performance committee was told from April to September 2021 how the region saw an increase in deliberate secondary fires from the previous year, rising by 854 incidents or 44% to 2,804.

Dave Leach, area manager for service delivery, told councillors at the meeting they are working hard to drive that down through working with partners and carrying out activities such as community walkabouts.

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He added they are already starting to see the positives after a “spike” in incidents earlier in the year and highlighted South Tyneside as an area where they have had success in reducing anti-social behaviour (ASB) fires.

Mr Leach said: “We have worked hard with partners and with the local authorities to drive that down and we are seeing the benefits of that now.

“Within the South Tyneside area we identified there was one individual who was the main culprit for deliberate secondary fires.

“Through engagement with that individual we’ve seen a 75% reduction in ASB fires within that area.”

He added work to tackle deliberate fires in Sunderland has included engaging with the Southwick Altogether Raising Aspirations (SARA), organising litter picks, and looking to use CCTV to identify fly-tippers.

Phil Clark, area manager for strategy and performance, said tackling deliberate secondary fires will be a key focus for the year, adding the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have previously impacted the figures.

He said: “I think a contributing factor to that is the easing of lockdown measures and we are comparing to an unusual year last year, so these are the highest figures we’ve seen since 2009/10.

“Of all the anti-social behaviour fires that we’ve seen, loose refuse remains the highest type for secondary fires, and we’re working very closely with local authorities in the area.

“In my view we can only solve this together.”