Community safety chiefs in arson crackdownPublished Friday, 5th July 2019
Community safety officials in Hartlepool have launched a major crackdown on young people who deliberately start fires in the town's parks.
The Hartlepool Community Safety Team, which brings together staff from Hartlepool Borough Council, Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade, is taking action following dozens of arson attacks over the last three months.
Grass, plants and rubbish have been set alight at Summerhill Country Park – causing damage to play equipment and the environment, and harm to wildlife – and there have also been repeated incidents at Burn Valley Gardens and Rossmere Park.
Measures taken by the team include:
- Putting up Cleveland Fire Brigade posters at Summerhill advising the public how to report grass fires.
- Sending a letter setting out its concerns to all secondary schools and asking for it to be read out during assembly
- Staging additional patrols by Police Community Support Officers and youth workers in all of the town’s parks, so that they can engage with young people, divert them into youth activities and, where necessary, challenge, warn or report them for further action if they are found to have been involved in fire-setting or anti-social behaviour.
Nicholas Stone, Neighbourhood Safety Team Leader with Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We want young people and their parents/guardians to be in no doubt about our determination to clampdown on the issue of arson within the town’s parks.
“Where possible, we are prepared to work constructively with young people and their parents/guardians to bring about a positive change in behaviour, but if this fails or they refuse to co-operate then we won’t hesitate to take the strongest possible action.”
In recent months, 32 young people and their parents/guardians have been visited, spoken to and warned about their behaviour.
Twenty eight young people are in the process of signing an Acceptable Behaviour Agreement, a voluntary written agreement signed by a young person and their parents/guardians where the young person acknowledges their involvement in anti-social behaviour and agrees to abide by a set of conditions about their future behaviour.
A Fire Setting Intervention and Education Course run by Cleveland Fire Brigade which deals with the risks and consequences of fire setting, is also being attended by 28 young people, while 19 are participating in a restorative programme which involves them learning about the harm that their behaviour has caused to wildlife and participating in litter picking.
Two young people have been arrested by Cleveland Police for arson.
Anyone wishing to report anti-social behaviour in their neighbourhood can email the Hartlepool Community Safety Team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01429) 523100. Alternatively, they can call Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.