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South Wales Police calls for community to make a stand against arsonists who cause grass fires

 

A warning shot has been fired by South Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable Matt Jukes to those intent on causing grass fires across the region.

Fire_DCC Jukes Profile

He has promised to take robust action wherever possible on those caught setting their communities alight.

South Wales Police’s second in command visited Porth in the heart of the Rhondda valley which has suffered more grass fires than any other south Wales area.

More than 100 separate incidents across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil have been reported to South Wales Police since the beginning of March this year.

He made his promise at the scene of a recent fire which very nearly reached and could have devastated an adjoining farm building.

He said: “I have come to see for myself the devastation that these fires are causing and I can see that it is only a matter of time before somebody gets seriously injured or even killed.

“What is most concerning is that we believe that many of these grass fires are being cause by children. This must be addressed and everybody can do their bit in the community. Teachers, neighbours, shop owners, but most importantly parents or carers have a role to play and can make a stand against this recurring problem.

“The public are our eyes and ears and we need their support and vigilance to prevent grassfires and any subsequent damage, but also to ensure those responsible are arrested and prosecuted,” he added.

People are being urged to look out for tell tale signs of intent to commit arson. Clothes smelling of smoke; marked skin; and missing lighters, matches or accelerants are all possible signs.

Police officers across south Wales are working closely with fire crews to respond quickly to reports of grassfires, to minimise damage, to make arrests, and secure convictions.

Officers have arrested a number of children in relation to grass fires. Four youths aged between 12 and 14 were arrested in Maerdy on Sunday evening and have since been bailed pending further enquiries. In a separate matter, an 11 year-old boy was arrested in Taff; he, and others members of a group, were taken home to their parents by officers who gave them stern advice.

Mr Jukes added: “People from a very young age risk spoiling their prospects forever, through one act of stupidity. We will not hesitate to convict those who act with such disregard for property and life. We will make sure we make full use of legislation to ensure people face the consequences of their actions. It is time that prosecuting those we catch become a serious lesson for the individual, but also a big deterrent to others. Anyone who carries on regardless can consider themselves fully warned.

“Every day firefighters are having to put themselves in great danger to ensure the safety of others and to preserve property. For every minute they are having to spend tackling a deliberate grass fire, they aren’t as ready as they could be to respond to the many different emergencies that they are called to deal with every day.

“The sad reality is that because of the naïve and reckless actions of some of the youngest members of the community, the lives of those who need the emergency services most are being put at serious risk.”

Anyone who has information about deliberate grass fires is urged to contact South Wales Police via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always call 999.

Click here for the video with DCC Matt Jukes