POLICE in West Conwy have guidance after a recent spike in reported incidents of youth-related arson.
Over the last month there have been 13 reports of arson in the district, with significant fire damage caused in several cases.
The guide clarifies what legally constitutes arson as a crime, provides advice for parents, and notes on risk reduction around fires.
What is arson?
Arson is the largest single cause of major fires in the UK and it costs the nation millions of pounds every year.
In addition to the financial cost, it also ties up resources from attending incidents that require rescues to be made, putting lives at risk.
North Wales Police’s Arson Reduction Team is making a serious effort to tackle the problem – through partnership working and campaigns.
Arson often starts with a fascination for fire and progresses to lighting small fires, but this can quickly escalate onto bins, skips, cars, derelict properties and, most disturbingly, people’s homes.
Working in close partnership with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Crimestoppers, local authorities, neighbourhood watch schemes and other agencies, we educate and aim to deter potential arsonists.
Advice for parents
Children are curious about fire and flames. Some can be so fascinated they’ll put lives, including their own, in danger. If you’re responsible for a child, you’re legally responsible for any illegal actions carried out by that child. So if you think your child may be lighting fires deliberately, you must do something about it.
What can parents do?
Families are often reluctant to take action on what they think (and hope) is a one-time occurrence.
Sometimes families simply ignore the seriousness of the behaviour. However, ALL children who have engaged in fire play or fire setting behaviour need intervention.
Even very young children who were just curious need to be educated on the dangers of fire play so that they do not continue the behaviour and grow up to be arsonists.
Talk to your children about the realities of the law. A fire that is set can lead to the charge of arson. This is a serious crime, fire can destroy property, injure others, or take lives.
Adult modelling – set a good example
Most young people learn how to use fire by watching the adults around them (most often parents). If the behaviour of adults does not show respect for fire, the behaviour of children most certainly won’t.
Keep matches and lighters in a safe place, high and out of reach of young children. Lock them up if necessary.
For further information and assistance ccontact the Arson Reduction Team or call 0300 123 6698.