At 19:39 hours on 13th April a member of the public called Gwent Police Control to report seeing two males setting fire to the mountainside above Risca. The person that reported the incident was watching both males setting multiple fires and passed on full details of both males to Gwent Police Control.
Officers from Blackwood response hub were dispatched to the area and when the first Police Officer arrived at the scene he witnessed the two males in the process of lighting another fire that quickly spread.
The police Officer apprehended both males and put the fire out before arresting them for arson of the common land.
Following this, the two males were charged with arson and on Monday 30th April at 09:45 hours at Caerphilly Magistrates court both male offenders pleaded guilty to arson and were each given 100 hours community service and ordered to pay £85 court costs each.
Huw Jakeway, Acting Chief Fire Officer, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said;“This is an extremely successful outcome for the Fire and Rescue Service and for all of our partners and communities”.
He continued “These offences are often seen as ‘victimless’ crimes however deliberately set grass fires are extremely unpredictable and can spiral out of control within minutes. Every time our Firefighters are called out to a deliberately set grass or mountain fire, not only does it negatively impact on the environment, wildlife and carbon footprint and puts Firefighters at a needless risk but it also means that Firefighters could be diverted from attending a real emergency – someone trapped in a house fire or a crashed car, where there is a potential life risk”.
Chris Hadfield, Group Manager - Fire Crime Unit, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said;“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case - it is hoped that this successful conviction will show that these actions and the senseless destruction of our communities will not be tolerated and the conviction will be a deterrent to any other persons thinking of carrying out such actions”.
“The Easter holiday period traditionally sees the number of deliberately set grass and mountain fires soar and results in South Wales’ fire crews being stretched to breaking point. Annually, the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service makes special preparations for potential spate conditions and this year, the Service has once again used the diversionary and enforcement activities put in place via ‘Project Bernie’ to reduce the number of deliberately set grass fires and ease the burden on the Service”.
“Tackling the issues of deliberate grass fires is as much about prevention, education and enforcement as it is about new operational equipment and tactics. We have been and will continue to work closely with the Police and our partner agencies to address the underlying issues of anti social behaviour that result in the devastation of the environment and to continue to work with the Police to prosecute those responsible for these senseless acts”
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