Youths start more than 100 fires

Youths starting fires - pic posed by models

Youths starting fires - pic posed by models

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YOUNGSTERS - some as young as ten - have deliberately caused more than 130 fires in the last two years in the Wigan borough.

Figures released under Freedom of Information rules show that in 2011 and 2012 there were 132 blazes which were started by youths between the age of 10 and 17.

In 2011, 84 fires were set by children and teenagers looking for trouble, which almost halved the year later, with 45.

Over the two years, these include 29 blazes started at residential properties and 12 at a prison, and 18 vehicles.

Eight sheds were set alight, as well as eight garages, six post boxes, and five recycling points and bottle banks,

There were nine incidents of grassland, scrubland, and baled crops fires, plus four reports of outdoor equipment and machinery being torched,

Only six fires were accidental, with five involving residential properties, and one causing damage to an outdoor building.

Fire chiefs insist that whilst the figures appear to be falling, there are still too many incidents of youths sparking blazes and officers are working with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to tackle the problem and ensure they understand the dangers.

Borough Manager Steve Sheridan said: “We work tirelessly with young people in schools and on our fire stations across the borough of Wigan to educate them about the dangers of playing with fire. While it’s encouraging to see a drop in the numbers of deliberate fires on the previous 12 month period – it is disappointing that some young people still aren’t getting the message.

“As Bonfire Night approaches firefighters will be visiting schools as part of the Treacle campaign which is designed prevent, tackle and protect against antisocial behaviour, criminal damage and reducing incidents and injuries during the Hallowe’en and Bonfire period.”

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of GMP said: “Everyone needs to behave responsibly and respect others and understand the consequences of irresponsible behaviour.

“Unfortunately, too often we see the actions of a few who commit acts of antisocial behaviour, damage and violence.

“If behaviour gets out of hand and causes distress to anyone then we will take firm action, and I would urge people to report any antisocial behaviour to police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, as we treat all incidents seriously.”