Charles Graham - Firebugs need to be taught a harsh lesson

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WHILE the riots that hit Britain came as a nasty surprise because of their suddenness and size, there is no question that some of those involved were well schooled in the art of vandalism, theft and anti-social behaviour.

Some of them like creating this kind of moronic mayhem on a regular basis and it is a constant and justifiable complaint from our firefighters that much of their time is spent tackling blazes set deliberately by louts like this.

The oft-repeated concerns are that these arson attacks, whether they be rubbish set alight in a bin or a full-blown factory blaze, are a huge drain on time and resources.

Then, even more importantly, there is the worry that while some imbecile causes havoc for his own pleasure, the fire crews attending to it may be diverted away from another, more serious emergency somewhere else.

A few years ago the local stations launched the Firestoppers hotline (0800 923 99990) for people to report artonists and I am told that it has yielded some good results. But the problems in some parts persist and, with money scarce, the brigade could well do without the extra workload.

Which is why what have been described as “mini-boot camps” are going to be held at the Robin Park Road headquarters for young people who have been linked to fire-raising in the past.

The aim is to teach them the error of their ways and show them that what they might consider a relatively harmless bit of fun could have terrifying, if not deadly, consequences.

Chief Steve Sheridan also points out that people who get involved in petty arson often graduate on to more serious crimes. So there is a double value in nipping these offences in the bud.

I wish the brigade well.