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Plans to tackle deliberate grass fires have been set out in a meeting held by the First Minister.
Carwyn Jones, Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews, Education & Skills Minister Huw Lewis and Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant met with representatives from Gwent Police, South Wales Police, South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales, relevant Local Authorities and the Met Office to talk about the recent spate of blazes – and what can be done to stop them.
The First Minister has called it an important step:
“While the number of deliberate grass fires is declining in the long term, since the start of April we have seen a significant number across Wales, especially in South Wales.
“I commend the FRS, and individual fire fighters, for their response to these outbreaks and welcome the tough stance taken by South Wales Police, but I recognise that the Welsh Government also has an important role to play.
“Today we set out a programme of co-ordinated action across Government, the Fire Service, the Police, schools, Local Authorities and Natural Resources Wales. We formulated a clear and co-ordinated programme of action for the short, medium and long-term.
It’s hoped the meeting on Wednesday will result in better detection and re-enforcement and encourage more educational work in schools.
But Peter Vaughan, who’s Chief Constable of South Wales Police, says young people aren’t solely to blame:
“22 were arrested over the recent weeks and of those, 7 were over the age of 18.
“Our eldest offender is 58 years of age.
“Older people should know better.”
Local communities were also praised for their work in helping police and fire services.
Chief Fire Officer for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Huw Jakeway, says he can’t thank people enough for their support:
“The number of Tweets and Facebook hits we’ve had, to knocks on doors to our fire stations...
“Our job now is to take that community support forward and say no to deliberate grass fires.”