Fire prevention work steps up following rise in arson incidents

Firebugs: Coun Charlie Wraith surveys the damage caused in an arson attack at Cudworth Park, Barnsley
Firebugs: Coun Charlie Wraith surveys the damage caused in an arson attack at Cudworth Park, Barnsley
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Fire service staff are the latest recruits to join the expanding ‘neighbourhood hubs’ in South Yorkshire, formed to allow police, officers, council staff and colleagues from other public bodies to work together more effectively.

The objective is to solve the underlying reasons why the emergency services, council and health staff have to get involved in incidents in the first place, a move aimed at reducing demand on all services and improving the quality of life in South Yorkshire communities.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are now sending their fire community support officers to join those already working from the hubs, which have been formed since the re-introduction of neighbourhood police in the county, under a project which has funding for the next three years.

It comes at a time when arson incidents have been rising, the recent figures showing overall deliberate fires were up by more than 37 per cent in September 2016 compared to the previous year, though by March last year they were down slightly on the same period a year before.

Deliberate car fires have also become an increased problem, rising from 41 in April 2016 to 76 in September that year, before tailing off again.

Four officers will be posted in neighbourhood hubs, with the service’s ruling South Yorkshire Fire Authority told in a report it was “with the aim of reducing operational demand, and prevention activities for the most vulnerable.”

The work is expected to compliment the ‘early intervention’ activities carried out by station-based fire officers help identify risks where prevention work can help.

The staff based in the neighbourhood hubs will be expected to make the most of opportunities for collaboration with colleagues from other services to make a greater impact than they might otherwise achieve.

Costs for the staff, the vehicles they will need and other expenses are expected to total around £357,000 for the full three year period.