Wirral teenagers fined for starting tree fires on Bidston Hill
TWO teenage boys have been fined after they were caught setting fire to trees on Bidston Hill.
The 13 and 14-year-olds were given £80 fixed penalty notices by two Police Community Support Officers, who spotted them setting fire to trees with cigarette lighters.
The action follows a joint operation by Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to crackdown on the deliberate starting of grass fires.
Since April 1, the emergency services have received 34 calls about fires in the area.
A multi-agency campaign has seen an increased presence of fire crews and the Threat Response Group.
MF&RS district manager for Wirral, John Davies, said: "Firefighters have been called to an increasing number of fires in Bidston over the last month.
"We have immediately got together with partner agencies such as the police and council to tackle this which has led to an increased presence in the area during the daytime and evening.
"We are now seeing some positive outcomes from this as we make people aware of the dangers and apprehend those responsible.
"Sadly it is a vast area and some people are intent of putting lives in danger by starting fires.
"Hopefully these penalty notices will deter them from lighting any in the future."
Chief Inspector Nick Gunatilleke, from the Force's anti-social behaviour taskforce, said the fines sent a clear message out to other people about the consequences of starting fires.
He said: "These lads have been sent home with a big fine that either they or their parents will now have to pay so hopefully that will stop them doing it again.
"What may seem like a harmless prank to two bored teenagers can actually be incredibly dangerous to them and the wider community if the fire spreads.
"Fires like this also tie up a lot of valuable resources from the emergency services, who could be helping someone in real need elsewhere, and also damage the parks and open spaces that are enjoyed by everyone else.
"The neighbourhood policing team for the area will continue to work with our partners in the fire service and local authority, to build on this good work by our PCSOs so that Bidston Hill
and other open spaces are protected from mindless damage like this."
MF&RS has provided Wirral Community Patrol and Wirral Ranger Service with portable water fire extinguisher backpacks to tackle small fires in open spaces.
This initiative has only just started and will help reduce the likelihood of escalation to large scale incidents in areas of open spaces. THE GLOBE