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Help stop arsonists wasting emergency services's time in Cambridgeshire this summer plea

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Police and fire officers are urging the public to be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour in a bid to prevent arsons in the county.

The plea is part of the force’s #SaferSummer campaign and comes at a time when there are often more offences, influenced by warm dry weather, school holidays and harvest season.

The fire service has dealt with more than 80 arsons in August over past few years.

Arson attack on straw stack kept fire crews busy back in June. (15119612)
Arson attack on straw stack kept fire crews busy back in June. (15119612)

Sergeant Craig Flavell, from the force’s rural crime action team (RCAT), said the said the summer months see an increase in rural arsons, with the harvest resulting in an increase in stack fires, when hay bales are deliberately set on fire.

Sgt Flavell said: “These fires can seem like fun to those starting them but they cost farmers thousands of pounds and can spread, especially in hot weather, and become major fires.

“Arson is a crime and has consequences. Stack fires can destroy properties, kill livestock and put people in the nearby area at risk. Those caught starting fires can also face a prison sentence.

“I would urge anyone who sees suspicious behaviour, particularly around vulnerable locations, such as hay stacks, to call police and if a crime is taking place call 999.”

RCAT deal with stack fires in a joint operation with the fire service called Op Armitage. This involves:

a dedicated response plan when called into either emergency services

covert and overt tactics

crime prevention from both emergency services

regular meetings between police and fire to share information/intelligence

To help prevent stack fires, farm workers are urged to store hay away from the road and keep fuel, fertilisers and pesticides under lock and key.

Station Commander Pete Jones, Arson Liaison Officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fires started deliberately like this pose significant issues for us. Not only do they present a risk to our crews, like any fire, but the crews committed here are not available to respond to other emergencies. This is very frustrating as fires like this are avoidable and could delay our response to another emergency.

“Arson is a serious crime and can have severe consequences for those who start a fire, no matter how big or how small it is. Not only this, but any fire presents significant risks for anyone around the area if it gets out of hand.”

If you have information about a deliberate fire or have seen suspicious activity please submit an online report at www.cambs.police.uk, call the police on 101 in a non-emergency or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. If it is an emergency call 999.

For fire safety advice, visit https://www.cambs.police.uk/A-Z/Arson

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