Police hope to shock arsonists

Kevin Ronan, of South Yorkshire Fire Service (L) with Colin McFarlane, of South Yorkshire Police
Kevin Ronan, of South Yorkshire Fire Service (L) with Colin McFarlane, of South Yorkshire Police

Police chiefs are using a shocking picture of a boy with facial burns to try to reduce arson attacks across South Yorkshire.

The image is being displayed on posters to highlight the consequences of starting fires.

Last year 681 arson attacks were reported to South Yorkshire Police and analysis of incidents between August 2014 and June 2015 showed that 80 per of offenders were male with most aged between 11 and 16.

As part of the new arson crackdown stickers will be placed on bins reminding people not to leave them out overnight, with a high number of arson attacks involving wheelie bins.

Superintendent Colin McFarlane, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The aim is to make young people and their parents sit up and realise the very real consequences associated with incidents of arson.

“I make no apology for the graphic nature of the image we are using to promote the campaign as setting fire to someone’s bin may be seen by some as not much more than a prank but this type of anti-social behaviour can have fatal and life altering consequences.

“I would hate to think that this type of thing could happen to anyone’s child and I would urge parents to continue to speak to their children about the absolute dangers of playing with fire.”

Kevin Ronan, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s head of community safety, said: “Three quarters of all the fires we attend are started deliberately, which is a massive drain on our resources.

“Starting fires is reckless and costs lives, as even small fires like bin and rubbish fires can quickly spread, take fire engines away from more serious incidents and put you and the people you love in real danger.”