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17 May 2011, 09:25
Police in Hythe and the surrounding areas are taking action following a number of arson and suspicious fires in recent months.
14 'suspicious fire' incidents have been reported to police in the New Forest East sector since April 2011.
Sergeant Simon Flint, who leads the New Forest East Safer Neighbourhoods team, said:
“Unfortunately, we have received a number of reports of fires which we believe were not started accidentally. The local police teams are fully committed to actively pursuing those responsible for deliberate and reckless fire starting, which puts peoples’ lives, as well as our local countryside and wildlife, at risk.
“We would urge anyone who sees any suspicious behaviour or who has any information about who might be responsible for these fires to contact police immediately.”
He added: “To try and reduce this problem throughout the forthcoming summer months, we have set up a Fire Project Meeting Group and will be working closely with our partners at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Hythe Council, Handy Trust youth team, the Forestry Commission, NFDC and our Country Watch team. We will be doing a lot of work to try and educate people about the dangers of fires, to gather intelligence and to arrest any offenders we identify.”
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has been delivering school education about the dangers and issues related to arson and has been working closely with local officers. The Service has also been engaging with local land owners to increase good land management to reduce the risk of fire. Firefighters are also carrying out arson patrols in a number of areas using bicycles.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service's New Forest Group Manager, Steve Quinn, said:
“We would urge the public to take care when in the countryside and to alert the Service to fires as early as possible by calling 999. An early call could mean the difference between a small, easily controllable fire and a widespread, devastating fire.”
Anyone with any information about these incidents is asked to contact PS Simon Flint at Hythe police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where information can be left anonymously.