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Working together to reduce arson...
A new intelligence-led unit delivering tactical advice and specialist support helping Hampshire Constabulary, and Hampshire Fire and Rescue in their drive to combat arson offences across the county. The Hampshire Arson Task Force (ATF) is a newly-established partnership initiative, which became operational in April 2007, following calls for better detection and conviction of arsonists.
Supporting fire and police colleagues involved in the investigation of deliberate and serious fires, the Hampshire ATF is based at Alton Fire Station and comprises Detective Constable, Mark Leonard, and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Watch Manager, Graham Howlett. The unit also has its very own fire investigation search dog, a black Labrador called Saxon who is trained to detect the presence of ignitable liquids used in deliberate fire setting, and can assist in identifying exhibits for seizure.
The ATF will attend crime scenes in order to co-ordinate an investigative response, collate evidence packages, and offer fire and police colleagues specialist advice and guidance in relation to the investigation of arson offences. They are supported in these activities by their colleagues from the Fire and Arson Support Unit who will engage with the community via direct communication methods; delivering witness appeal posters to residents and businesses, and displaying witness appeal boards, as and when necessary. The combined units' responsibilities also include the undertaking of arson reduction surveys in problem areas, arranging emergency home fire safety visits, and undertaking reviews of linked occurrences to formulate a strategic response.
In a special 2006 report, the Department for Communities and Local Government, along with the Arson Control Forum, identified that only 9% of arson cases recorded by the police resulted in an offender being identified. The conviction rate was even lower, and as a result, Fire and Rescue Services, and the Police, were asked to jointly focus on improving multi-agency investigation of deliberate fires, to help increase the detection and conviction rates of arsonists. Following on from the recommendations outlined in the report, the Hampshire Arson Task Force was born.
If you have information about someone deliberately starting fires call Crimestoppers on:
You can find more information in our Community Projects pages about Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service working with partner agencies within the Local Area Agreement to reduce the number of deliberate fires in Hampshire.
The following are some tips to follow to help reduce arson in your local area: