Fire service & police urge parents to speak to children following spate of deliberate fires in Bootle park

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is calling on parents to speak to children about the consequences of their actions following a spate of deliberately set fires in a Sefton park.

Firefighters have been called to 16 incidents in South Park, Bootle, since 11th November, the majority of which involved bins and shrubs. The most recent incident, which occurred on Monday 7th December, saw children’s play equipment torched after it was set alight by a group of youths.

Michael Buratti, Community Safety Co-ordinator at MFRS, said: “Firefighters have been called to South Park more than a dozen times in recent weeks at a time when all emergency services are already under a great amount of pressure. Some people might think setting fire to rubbish bins, shrubbery or playground equipment is a bit of harmless fun but this is arson – a serious criminal offence which puts people’s lives at risk and takes away valuable assets away from the local community. What might seem like ‘a laugh’ with their friends now could lead to a criminal record and seriously impact on not just their own future, but the futures of those around them.

“Fires like this cause a huge drain on fire service resources. If a fire engine is called out to a deliberate fire, this could delay the response to other potentially life-threatening incidents – we can’t be in two places at once."

MFRS is working closely with partner agencies, including Merseyside Police, to deal with all incidents of arson and anti-social behaviour in the South Park area.

Sefton Community Policing Chief Inspector Mike O’Malley said: “Such incidents cause damage, danger and disruption to a park which is for the benefit of local people, especially at the current time, where fresh air and exercise is so beneficial to people’s physical and mental wellbeing. For local people to frightened and fearful of visiting a green space will not be tolerated, and we’ll act on all information to find those responsible and put them before the courts, and continue to patrol the area.

"Not only is damage caused, but our emergency services are disrupted from attending other incidents, putting the lives of others at risk. The consequences of such behaviour can be catastrophic.

"I’d also encourage all parents and guardians of young people to know where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.

"By working together to actively prevent such incidents, it could ensure that you don’t receive a knock at the door from a police officer informing you that your child has been arrested or, worse still, has been involved in a serious accident."

To report a crime, always contact 999 in an emergency. Anyone with information around those responsible, please call 101, contact @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK on 0800 555 111.