A campaign to reduce the number of fires started deliberately has been hailed a success.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service saw a 34 per cent drop in the number of fires started deliberately between March and May compared to the same period last year.
Group manager Keith Carruthers said: “I am delighted that the campaign has worked and we’ve seen a significant reduction in anti-social behaviour fires.
“This is down to the hard work of our staff and our partners, such as the local authorities and the police, as well as the public in tackling the issue.”
As part of the campaign the Service worked with each of the five local authorities to carry out clean ups to get rid of any rubbish or fly tipping.
Fire officers carried out talks at schools in areas where there are particular issues with anti-social behaviour fires.
In North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service worked with Northumbria Police and North Tyneside Council to clean up hot spot areas in housing estates and business areas. Fire officers offered free home safety checks to help keep people safe from fire.
They also worked with Gibber Theatre Company who delivered a play in secondary schools throughout North Tyneside, highlighting the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
Keith added: “Whilst we are pleased with the success of the campaign, we are not complacent and we continue to work hard to get the message across.
“Not only do these anti-social behaviour fires cause damage to property, the environment and tie up firefighters unnecessarily but they can also cause injuries and deaths; what may seem like a bit of fun can quickly spread and endanger lives.
“Fire is unpredictable and dangerous, not only can it kill, but deliberately setting a fire can leave you with a criminal record and scar you for life.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority Member Coun Carole Burdis said: “By working together with our partners and the public we’ve been able to successfully reduce anti-social behaviour fires. I am incredibly proud of the work undertaken to achieve this and hope that this success continues.”