An operation to tackle arson and anti-social behaviour on a Wellingborough estate has been launched.
Operation Restore was launched on Wellingborough’s Hemmingwell estate yesterday (Tuesday), kicking off a summer of action aimed at engaging with and supporting residents as well as reducing arson incidents in the area.
In 2015/16, the number of deliberate fires recorded in Wellingborough by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) was 141.
In 2016/17, the figure rose to 210.
Vehicle and wheelie bin fires are areas of particular concern.
Operation Restore is being led by the Arson Task Force, supported by Wellingborough’s Safer Stronger Neighbourhood Partnership, of which NFRS and Wellingborough Council are members.
More than 30 partners, including the Hemmingwell Residents’ Association and Goodwill Solutions (Hemmingwell Community & Skills Centre), are also involved.
Chief fire officer Darren Dovey said: “Due to the substantial increase in deliberate fires between March 2016 and March 2017, action will be taken to reduce incidents of arson on the estate, including surveys by fire crews to identify and report potential fire hazards for removal, which will be followed up by waste teams from Wellingborough NORSE, and educational programmes to deflect potential offenders away from fire-setting.
“A similar operation on the Kingswood estate in Corby in 2015 called Operation Revive saw a 68 per cent reduction in arson and a significant reduction in anti-social behaviour, and we are hopeful that Operation Restore will be as successful.”
Home fire safety checks will be offered and Crimestoppers will be promoted as an anonymous reporting channel.
Following the launch of the door knocking, Arson Task Force officer Shaun Johnson said: “What a great day and thanks to all the community safety partners who helped launch Operation Restore on the Hemmingwell estate.
“It was wonderful to talk with people and listen to their comments about the estate which, in the main, were very positive.
“Getting our fire safety message across is very important and the day revealed a number of houses without smoke alarms which will now be fitted by NFRS as a matter of urgency.
“The Arson Task Force and partners will continue to engage with the residents of the Hemmingwell estate over the forthcoming months promoting fire safety and the Crimestoppers charity.
“We want to send a clear message that arson will not be tolerated by the residents and that offenders will be brought to justice.”
Questionnaires will be distributed for people to share their views for improvements to the estate, and advice will also be given about illegal money lending.
A spokesman for Wellingborough Council said: “We are looking forward to working with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, community safety partners and most importantly, the residents of the Hemmingwell over the next nine months, to provide key community safety information.
“We’ll also be finding out what issues residents may have and devising ways of working together to address them, with the aim of improving safety and quality of life on the estate.”
The safety information packs have been compiled by Teamwork Trust, a charity working with adults with mental health needs, learning and physical disabilities.
Shaun Johnson and NFRS community safety officer Jo Gouldson met Teamwork members to brief them on the pack contents.
Nick Hayton, business and fund development officer at Teamwork, said: “Our members have thoroughly enjoyed putting the community safety packs together and really appreciated the time taken by the fire officers Shaun and Jo to explain each leaflet and its importance.”
The community engagement calls will be repeated in October 2017 and early 2018, ahead of a progress assessment in March 2018.
The operation will also see performances of educational theatre programmes in 10 secondary schools from the autumn, including the feeder schools for the operation’s key areas.
These will address issues including alcohol, gangs and grooming.