Operation Extinguish launched to tackle anti-social behaviour in Southwick

A week long operation to tackle anti-social behaviour in Southwick, Sunderland launched today.

TWFRS employees with police officers and other partners

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council and housing provider Gentoo are working together for Operation Extinguish.

It will run for seven days from Monday 29 October until Sunday 4 November to tackle anti-social behaviour in Southwick, Sunderland.

Our operational crews will be targeting local businesses to provide information on arson prevention and the importance of reporting fly-tipping to the local council.

TWFRS, Head of Prevention and Education Grant Brotherton said: “Our statistics show that the Southwick and Redhill area has the highest rate for deliberate secondary fires. Since April 2017 our crews have attended 349 deliberate fires in the area.

“Not only do deliberate fires present huge risks to the perpetrators, cause damage to local properties and the environment, they also present a challenge to us. If we are attending deliberate fires, we are unavailable to attend other fires or emergencies.

“Parents can’t always know where there children are, but they can talk to them about the risks – risks that could leave them scarred for life or end up with a criminal record. Deliberately starting fires can quickly turn into something very serious.”

Safety messages will also be shared with parents through schools as well as our Prevention and Education Teams holding special assemblies to talk about the impact of anti-social behaviour within schools.

Sunderland City Council have produced a leaflet on household refuse and the facts occupiers need to know on refuse disposal and collection.

Inspector Don Wade, of Northumbria Police, said: “We are committed to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and this is an excellent example of partners working together to help protect those most vulnerable in our communities.

“The crime and anti-social behaviour of a minority can cause misery for many of our residents, and we will continue to carry out patrols in affected areas to offer a visible deterrent.

“Our local residents should not have to put up with the crime and anti-social behaviour of a few individuals, and I would urge members of the public who are concerned about anti-social behaviour in their area to speak to a nearby officer or contact police.

“By working together with partners and local residents, we can effectively tackle these issues.”

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Councillor Michael Mordey said:  “We need to make everybody more aware not only of the damage fire causes to homes and businesses, but also to the lives of the people who might be involved in causing them.

“Using a combination of education and enforcement we can get those messages across, and work with our community partners and residents to do everything we can to help prevent anti-social behaviour and the fly-tipping that can lead to deliberate fires and arson.

“If we all work together to report any problems and help identify those responsible, we can hopefully deter anyone from committing criminal acts.”

Ward councillor for Southwick and Deputy Portfolio Holder for Health and Social Care, Cllr Kelly Chequer added:  “We need to warn people in our community to be more careful with disposing of their household and commercial refuse, and also about what might happen if they aren’t with people potentially setting it on fire.”

Chair of Fire Authority Cllr Barry Curran “As a ward councillor and Chair of the Fire Authority I’m pleased to see this partnership working in place to try to provide education and advice to try to tackle these issues with anti-social behaviour in the area. I wish the operation every success.”

TWFRS outreach Vehicle will act as the “hub” and will be located at five different locations during the week and at the central location of Southwick Green the weekend before Bonfire night.

Susie Thompson, Director (Neighbourhoods) Gentoo Group said: “Anti-social behaviour is unacceptable and we want our customers to feel safe in their own neighbourhoods, especially during the darker nights. By joining forces with Tyne and Wear Fire and Service, Northumbria Police and Sunderland City Council we aim to effectively drive down this unwanted behaviour.  We will be carrying out street checks, encouraging residents to report if they see any rubbish for illegal bonfires and arranging extra collections in the run up to the Bonfire period.”

Listen to our Crew Managers Jade and Peter who explain the consequences of people deliberately setting fires in this short video