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Reducing deliberate fires remains a key focus for Multi-Agency Task Force


Deliberate fires in Wales provide a clear and present danger to our environment, economy and communities. Building on the knowledge and experience gained over the last decade, the Strategic Arson Reduction Board, which includes partners from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Dyfed Powys police, South Wales Police, Gwent Police, North Wales police, Met Office, National Probation Service, Natural Resources Wales, Public Health Wales, Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government Association, has just released the fourth generation of the Wales Arson Reduction Strategy.

The number of deliberately set grass fires in Wales had dramatically reduced since 2015; the Strategic Arson Reduction Board crediting the collaborative approach of its multi-agency task force, Operation Dawns Glaw, with the success.

In 2017/18 the number of deliberate grass fires across Wales stood at 1,627. When you compare this with 2,612 incidents prior to the establishment of Operation Dawns Glaw in 2015/16, this is a staggering reduction of 38%. This can be attributed in part, to a broad range of engagement intervention and the task force’s communication plan.

However, in 2018/19, this figure increased 75% on the 2017/18 statistic to a total of 2,850 deliberate grass fires across Wales.

Mydrian Harries, Chair of Operation Dawns Glaw and Corporate Head of Prevention and Protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Unfortunately, the figures for 2018/19 show a substantial increase in the number of incidents of deliberate grass fires attended across the whole of Wales, when we compare with our successes of the 2017/18 period.

“Due to substantially less rainfall during the early months of the year and a significantly dryer summer, factors outside of our control have had a negative impact on the statistics. When you compare 2017/18 against 2018/19, across Wales, we attended 230% more incidents of deliberate grass fires in June, 739% more in July, 198% more in August, 167% more in September and 114% more in October.

“While these statistics are very disappointing, they should not take away from the overall success of Operation Dawns Glaw. Over and above this, it should not deflect from the effort our partners have put in over the last 12 months, playing their part in helping to deliver on previous successes. History shows that engaging with young people through targeted interventions, high visibility patrols in vulnerable areas and education and marketing of safety advice, works. These figures clearly show that with all the will, determination and a hugely successful collaborative task force in place, sometimes uncontrollable factors can have an impact on our success.”

Despite these statistics the task force is determined to continue in their efforts to reduce deliberate grass fires in Wales. Planning has been underway since January in order to prepare for what could be another dry, hot summer. The task force is reminding members of the public to be vigilant while out enjoying the countryside and to be mindful of the dangers of small fires spreading and causing damage to agricultural crops, wildlife and property.

Remember – deliberate grass fires are a serious crime and you will be dealt with by the full force of the law. If you see anyone deliberately setting a fire, call the Police on 101 or contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

For more information, guidance and advice, visit your local fire and rescue service’s social media accounts.

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