Businesses in Daventry have been surveyed about fire safety and anti-social behaviour issues as a new operation aimed at cutting the number of arson incidents in the town gets underway.
The Arson Task Force, a joint initiative between Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, launched Operation Unite after at least 80 fires were recorded in and around the town centre over the last 11 months.
Joined by firefighters from Daventry fire station, volunteers and members of Daventry District Council’s community safety partnership and students from Northampton College, the task force visited shops and other companies in the town yesterday, Thursday, December 7.
Shaun Johnson, of the Arson Task Force, said: “Although the majority of these deliberate fires have been small, involving discarded waste, any incident like this can delay the fire service’s response in attending serious fires that could put lives and property at risk.
“When looking for solutions to this type of problem, public engagement is vital. Understanding how shop owners and keepers feel about issues affecting their businesses allows the partnership to bring together a better response. It has been a very encouraging day.”
A community-based response
Questions put to shopkeepers and business owners included ones on fire safety and anti-social behaviour, and ideas from respondents will form part of a tailored action plan to help prevent future arson incidents in Daventry.
Watch Commander Norman James, of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The day of action was very positive from our perspective and we were very pleased with the reaction we got.
“It was clear that retail managers and owners appreciated this type of consultation and the opportunity to offer up ideas as part of the solution. We’ll continue to work with our partners to reduce arson and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.”
Through Operation Unite, the police and fire service hope to tackle both the root cause of recent fires and also reduce the opportunity for arson by working with partners to quickly identify and remove items which could be set alight.
The launch of the operation also saw festive fire safety and prevention advice given to shoppers in the Tesco supermarket car park.
Support to prevent arson
As well as community projects like Operation Unite, the Arson Task Force also works with young people who are playing with fire. If you have concerns about a child or young person playing with fire please contact the team on 01604 797160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone with information about any incidents of deliberate fire setting is asked to call Northamptonshire Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.