The £2.9million cost of arson in Hartlepool after more than 600 deliberate fires in town
Fire brigade chiefs have pledged to tackle arson in Hartlepool after figures revealed more than 600 deliberate fires cost the town £2.9million last year.
Cleveland Fire Brigade bosses say arson in Hartlepool rose by 51% to 627 for 2018/19.
But they added the issue is a region-wide problem, with Cleveland having the highest rate of arson in the country.
Although Hartlepool had the second lowest rate of arson in the Cleveland area, 67.4 per 10,000, it was estimated it had a cost of over £2.9million to the town for 2018/19, according to National Fire Chief Council approximations.
It came as Alan Brown, head of emergency response for Cleveland Fire Brigade, gave an update to Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance Committee on its plans to tackle anti-social behaviour such as arson.
He said: “It is a big issue arson, certainly in Cleveland. We’re the second lowest within the Cleveland area [in Hartlepool], but we’re still well above the national average.
“The direct cost to Hartlepool from arson is £2.9million. Arson has a consequential impact, it’s increased by 26% from £2.3million to £2.9million [in 2018/19], but that’s only the reported incidents, so it could be greater.”
“The three main issues affecting Hartlepool are refuse, grassland and vehicle fires.
“The anti-social behaviour challenges that we face in Hartlepool, arson has increased by 51% from 416 to 627, so we’ve had a significant increase there.
“It is quite widespread in the Hartlepool area, certainly with the refuse fires, it’s spread across the whole town.”
Arson accounts for 84.9% of fires Cleveland Fire Brigade attended in 2018/19 and the 627 incidents in Hartlepool made up 17% of all deliberate fires they attended in Cleveland.
They also noted the number of deliberate dwelling fires in Hartlepool last year remained at 17, and the cost of these was an estimated £639,000, according to figures from the Home Office.
Cleveland Fire Brigade bosses noted they have plans in place to help reduce anti-social behaviour and arson, centring around work with partners such as the police and council as part of Hartlepool Community Safety Team.
Initiatives taking place include engaging with local communities, visiting schools, carrying out seasonal campaigns and reporting fly-tipping to be removed, with a conference also scheduled for later this year around the issue.
Mr Brown said: “We do work in collaboration with our partners and we seriously encourage partners to maximise the use of the powers they have to reduce anti-social behaviour.
“At the end of the day we’re trying to reduce arson and reduce the economic impact.
“Safer neighbourhoods is one of our main goals, we’re trying to achieve reduction in arson in anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool through advice, education and intervention.
“It’s about taking your bins in, don’t leave your bins out too early, if you identify fly-tipping get that removed, it’s all about the preventative work we can do jointly.
“It’s not a single agency issue, action that Cleveland Fire Brigade takes as a stand-alone agency has other community outcomes, so the support and continued championing is important.”