'Huge decrease' in number of deliberate blazes across the region after arson reduction strategy

Cleveland Fire Brigade appliances
-Credit: (Image: Evening Gazette)

More than 750 deliberate fires were recorded in Hartlepool over the past year, a decrease of around 25% compared to the 12 months prior.

Cleveland Fire Brigade chiefs noted the latest figures show a "huge decrease" in the number of deliberate blazes across the region after implementing an arson reduction strategy to look to tackle the issue. The latest meeting of Cleveland Fire Authority's audit and governance committee on Friday (June 28) heard from April 2023 to the end of March 2024 there were a total of 3,230 deliberate fires across the brigade area.

This was a decrease of 1,617 incidents, equating to 33%, compared to the 4,847 recorded during the 12 month period in 2022/23. It was also below the five year average of 3,992 and the yearly target of 5,104.

In Hartlepool there were 761 deliberate fires in 2023/24 an approximate 25% decrease compared to the 1,018 recorded during the 12 month period in 2022/23. This included 93 deliberate primary fires, down from 104, and 668 intentional secondary blazes, which are smaller outdoor fires not involving people or property, an almost 27% decrease compared to 914 in 2022/23.

Maria Watson, from the fire brigade risk and performance team, told the meeting they had seen "a huge decrease in the rate" of deliberate fires across Cleveland.

In 2022/23 the rate of deliberate fire setting in the brigade area had been the highest in the country and over six times the national rate of deliberate fires per 100,000 of the population, with the 2023/24 national figures not yet compiled. Ian Hayton, chief fire officer, added secondary fires in particular, which made up 86% of deliberate fires in 2023/24 and include the likes of loose rubbish, bins or grass blazes, had "dropped dramatically".

He continued that although some of this may have been down to the weather, the brigade has also had strategies in place seeking to help decrease the number of deliberate fires in the region. The meeting heard this included working to carry out sessions in schools to help warn young people of the dangers of such incidents.

Earlier this year the Safer Hartlepool Partnership heard education campaigns, support tackling fly-tipping and community skips were to all be used in helping to reduce deliberate fires in the borough. Fire brigade chiefs added a multi-agency group looking at tackling deliberate fires which "can blight our community" in Hartlepool was also in place.

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