Task force to tackle rise in deliberate fires in Fife

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A task force has been formed to help tackle a steady increase in the number of deliberate fires set in Fife.

Figures have been going up over the past over the last four years with a marked increase in the Levenmouth area – up 45 per cent.

Now action has been taken to tackle the issue.

Local senior officer, Roddie Keith, told councillors a task force had been formed specifically in that area to help establish reasons and solutions.

Cllr David Graham asked what was being done to inform young people in the area of the dangers of fire raising.

SFRS group manager, Mark Bryce, agreed that there had been a number of serious incidents in that area which had been traced back to young people.

But, he added that bringing in police to targeted talks at school, making sure they were aware they might end up with a criminal record, had helped to cut the number of incidents.

Police chief superintendent, Colin Gall, added: “DiversiFIRE runs with school youths over the age of 12 to target anti-social behaviour.

“Twelve young people go to a week long course run at fire stations to highlight the dangers.

“The programme is now running in Glenrothes, but we’ve talked about bringing it back to the Levenmouth area to address these issues.”

He added: “Young people, when they realise the police are involved, are very quick to inform us of who started the fire, especially if they were in that crowd, to clear their own names.”

Cllr Jan Wincott said that there needed to be a more frank discussion around deliberate fires with young people, adding: “People are saying that young people are being ‘mischievous’.

“I think we need to use stronger language in these talks and tell them they are endangering lives – they are putting peoples lives at risk.”

Officer Keith said that thanks to all these initiatives, they had seen a modest improvement in the first quarter in the area.