By Laura Hughes

Published: JMU Journalism 21/03/17

A new campaign has been launched this week in a bid to cut the number of arson attacks across the region.

As part of Arson Awareness Week, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has teamed up with Merseyside Police and locals councils to highlight the dangers of deliberately setting fires.

The scheme comes in the wake of what owners fear was a suspected arson attack at the European Metal Recycling facility on Alexandra Dock in Bootle last week.

The initiative, which runs from March 20th to 24th, will see teams visit homes and businesses in Kirkdale, Everton, Litherland, Kirkby, Speke, St Helens town centre and Egremont in Wirral. They will carry out home fire safety checks, distribute information leaflets and identify residents who may be vulnerable to arson attacks.

Skips will be provided to remove fly-tipped rubbish from communities and fire prevention teams will give advice to business owners about waste management. They will also engage with homeless people to raise awareness of the dangers and provide support to residents concerned about anti-social fire setting in their neighbourhoods.

Arson reduction co-ordinator for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Paul Kay, said: “If fire appliances are called out to deliberate fires this may delay the response to other emergencies, which could endanger lives elsewhere.

“We want to make people aware that deliberately setting fires in a public place is arson and if caught, those responsible may face legal action.”

Councillor George Davies, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, told JMU Journalism: “Arson attacks send out the wrong message to the area and it makes it look like people don’t care when 99.9% of them do care and it’s very important to get that point across.

“It’s under education with a lot of people, they don’t understand the consequences of it and that’s why this week of demonstrations will help to tell people, first of all, don’t dump litter, because that is the most common cause of it at the moment. Last week in Wallasey there was an arson attack because litter went on fire.”

Mr Davies gave his guidance to anyone who witnesses an attack, saying: “My advice is strongly to report it directly to the police and to the fire brigade. Some people would say it’s not an emergency but it is because someone could actually die from it. If it looks bad by you and there’s a fire taking over then make no hesitation in phoning 999.”

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