Emergency services launch their Darker Nights campaign

With the darker nights setting in, emergency services across the region have called on parents to help keep their communities safe.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have today launched their Darker Nights campaign as they prepare for what is historically their busiest time of the year.

Figures showed last year that deliberate fires in public areas – such as rubbish or wheelie bin fires – increased by 94% over the school holidays and Bonfire weekend.

Many of the incidents are linked to anti-social behaviour, often perpetrated by young people, and have put public safety at risk.

Now the fire service have teamed up with Northumbria Police and the North East Ambulance Service to ask parents – do you know where your children are?

It follows an incident in South Shields earlier this month where 50 children threw fireworks at fire crews and police in North Marine Park.

Fire crews had responded to reports of a rubbish fire just after 7pm on Saturday, October 14th, but were met with verbal abuse and missiles upon their arrival.

Thankfully no front line responders were injured during the incident but, as they launch their Darker Nights campaign, senior fire officers have called on support of the public to keep communities safe.

Paul Russell, Area Manager Community Safety at TWFRS, said: “Bonfire Night and the build up to the celebratory event is always a fun-time pencilled in to people’s social calendars.

“It’s also highlighted on our calendar for different reasons as it’s one of the Fire Service’s busiest times of the year, which is echoed by our blue light colleagues.

“All that we ask is that people stay safe and at the same time respect your emergency services, we are all here to ensure that you and your family are kept safe from harm.

“One act of anti-social behaviour against the emergency services is one too many, these brave people risk their lives to protect you in your time of need and they have families and loved ones who would like to see them arrive home safely and uninjured from work.

“Illegal bonfires and firework displays could be putting people’s lives at risk. Our advice this Bonfire Night is to attend one of the licenced events that are being staged in your local area across Tyne and Wear.

“If you do experience any anti-social behaviour then let Firestoppers know of the details.  This can be done anonymously by calling 0800 169 5558.”

Figures released today (Wednesday 25th October) show how the level of demand on TWFRS increases the two weeks in and around Bonfire Night (during the half term holiday period).

Data taken from last year clearly indicate the surge in deliberate secondary fires across Tyne and Wear from the same two week period immediately before.

The number of deliberate secondary fires nearly doubled from 200 to 388, which translates into a worrying increase of 94%.

Chief Inspector Nicola Walker, of Northumbria Police, said:  “We hope everyone enjoys the Halloween and Bonfire Night period. We would always ask that people take responsibility for themselves and are considerate of others – especially those who can feel anxious or intimidated at this time of year.

“As in previous years, we’ll be running a multi-agency operation over this Halloween and Bonfire Night period, working closely with all our partners to proactively prevent pockets of disorder and deal with any issues together should they arise.

“Anybody who is concerned about anti-social behaviour in their area is asked to report it to us by speaking to an officer on patrol, via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101.”

Shane Woodhouse, Head of Operations for the South Division at the North East Ambulance Service said: “Please use the emergency services wisely, especially during busy events such as Halloween and Bonfire Night.

“We’re here to keep you safe but please do your part, these include attending organised firework displays, keeping a safe distance, supervising children and following local guidelines.

“Remember, safety should be a top priority to enjoy the occasions without accidents. If we do attend a job near you, please be respectful to our crews and partner organisations, they are here to help you.”

They will also be working with other strategic partners including all of the local councils in Tyne and Wear, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, Nexus and regional housing associations such as Your Homes Newcastle, Karbon Homes and Gentoo.

Firefighters have been carrying out visits to schools and colleges, sharing messages about the consequences of anti-social behaviour and the dangers of playing with fireworks or setting fire.

Stay safe this Bonfire Night weekend: To ensure that you and your family stay safe this Bonfire Night we have compiled all of the organised and third party displays taking place across Tyne & Wear – please click here for further information www.twfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/celebrate/organised-fireworks-displays

Please stay safe this Bonfire Night and respect your emergency services.

Please note: TWFRS are not endorsing these events but purely informing residents they are taking place.