Headlines: February 15th, 2007



Communities and Local Government has launched an Action Plan to reduce fire-related deaths and incidents caused by young people. The Plan will be implemented in collaboration with the Chief Fire Officers’ Association and other bodies. It will focus on youth crimes such as arson, hoax calls and attacks on firefighters.

Although youth arson attacks have fallen by 49 percent since 2001 fire related crimes and associated anti-social behaviour are a continuing problem. Fire related crimes are disproportionately committed by children and young people, and especially disadvantaged young people. Around 40 percent of all deliberate property and vehicle fires are linked to youth crime and disorder. Research has shown that young people become attracted to arson or similar anti-social activity because of a combination of lack of supervision, of local activities, and of worthwhile distractions. ‘Wrong crowd’ peer pressure also plays a part.

Children living in deprived areas are sixteen times more likely to die in a house fire and 31 times more likely to suffer from an arson attack.

Under the Action Plan, Fire and Rescue Services will work with Sure Start family centres as part of their commitment to community youth engagement and youth fire crime reduction. They will engage actively with children and young people to seek to divert them from fire crime and associated anti-social behaviour and to educate them and their families in fire safety skills and responsible citizenship. The Departments for Education and Skills and Communities and Local Government will also produce guidance for Sure Start family centres.

Projects to tackle youth fire related crimes include a youth intervention programme in Staffordshire for convicted arsonists, a full-time one-week course in London on fire prevention, complete with the use of fire-fighting equipment and a project to provide an intensive work experience course in Tyne and Wear to promotes the positive side of working with a disciplined uniformed team.