Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service says ‘on your bike’ to arsonists

Firefighters are taking to two wheels in the latest chapter in the ever evolving work being undertaken by Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service in tackling arson and anti-social behaviour.

This week marked the official launch of the service’s new Bicycle Intervention Knowledge and Education team (BIKE).

DCFO Gary Phillips, PCSO Rebecca Carless, Arson reduction officer Debbie Satchwell, Crew Commander Les Moore, Firefighter James Russell, and Arson Reduction Manager Ian Tonner.

Since 2007 WFRS have been working in partnership with Warwickshire Police in all aspects of arson and anti-social behaviour.

And this week the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service BIKE team started a new venture in partnership with Warwickshire Police to use mountain bikes as a tool to reach those areas that historically have become high areas of anti-social behaviour and arson, particularly involving small fires.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service Gary Phillips said: “The remit of the BIKE team is to traverse the areas of high activity that conventional appliances or off road vehicles are unable to reach. The role of the team is to intervene in any arson or potential anti-social behaviour.

“The BIKE team’s role has evolved from the successful anti-social behaviour teams who have been working in this field for many years, achieving a 45 per cent reduction in deliberate small fires over a three year period using engagement only. This approach is clearly working and that is why this BIKE team needs to be a fundamental part of any arson reduction tactics moving forward.

“The times that the bike team operate will be varied unlike that of the anti-social behaviour team which operates in the evenings, this enables a joint approach to the problem.”

DCFO Phillips said that all targets have been established through analysis of data and local intelligence including community involvement.

He said: “The benefit will not only be a visual presence in the park and pool areas of Nuneaton and Bedworth, but a link for the community to pass on any information around arson and anti-social behaviour.”

Arson Reduction Manager Ian Tonner added: “We continue to develop strategies and tactics to ensure we reach and reduce low level arson and anti-social behaviour across Warwickshire.

“The team consists of 12 staff who have undergone a Health and Safety bike course; shown a high level of fitness and also have experience and skills in youth engagement.

“We hope that the sight of the team in the areas of concern such as Queen Elizabeth Road and the Whittleford Park area will both reduce the fires, anti-social behaviour and also reassure the public that we are targeting hard to reach areas that historically have been a problem for us.”

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website can be found here www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue

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