Emergency services and councillors have joined forces to tackle the growing problem of arson attacks.
The ‘Enough Is Enough’ campaign, aimed at tackling deliberate fires on the coast has been launched by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS), Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council, as part of National Arson Awareness Week.
Durham’s east coast area has seen a sharp increase of incidents of arson over the past four years, with deliberate fires that damage people’s property rising by 127% and grass and rubbish fires increasing by 63%.
The areas seeing the biggest rise are Horden, Shotton Colliery and the Easington areas.
Chiefs say this has resulted in extensive damage not only to residents’ cars and homes, but also to the local area.
The campaign will see firefighters, police and council staff out in the areas affected talking to residents in a bid to reduce the number of incidents.
Assistant chief fire officer at the fire service, Dominic Brown, said: “We’ve deliberately launched the campaign to coincide with National Arson Awareness Week and the lead up to the Easter holidays, when traditionally we see a spike in deliberate fires.
“If our firefighters continue to deal with this volume of deliberate fires, it may delay their response to genuine emergencies.
“This campaign is about harnessing the strong community spirit in these areas and letting residents know we are here to work with them to tackle these issues.
“Our message, is clear, the community and the authorities have had enough, and this has to stop.”
Jo Farrell, deputy chief constable of Durham Constabulary, said: “Arson damages communities, it damages property but, above all, it puts people’s lives at risk.
“Our communities shouldn’t have to put up with that, which is why we are doing everything we can to deal with the problem and keep people safe.”
Coun Lucy Hovvels MBE, who is Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “Deliberately setting things on fire can put people in real danger while there is the potential for pollution.
“Burnt out cars and other items also spoil the appearance of our beautiful county.
“We would appeal to residents and businesses to play their part in preventing arson by ensuring waste is disposed of correctly and that wheelie bins are not left in public places longer than is necessary.”
Anyone with information about deliberate fires being started should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.