Fire

London working to increase opportunities for young people: London Fire Brigade's assistant commissioner for service delivery and community safety, Steve Turek, looks at how the brigade is working with young people in the capital to reduce anti-social behaviour and increase the range of opportunities open to them.(Crime & Antisocial Behaviour)

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF A MODERN FIRE and rescue service requires continuous engagement with local communities beyond simply responding to emergencies when they occur. And no part of this process is more important than engagement with young people.

They are key to the transmission of community safety messages. They are the community leaders of the future. And their understanding of, and support for, the work of fire and rescue services can be critical in reducing anti-social and offending behaviour.

The government has identified tackling antisocial behaviour as a priority. And every local authority area has an established Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, which brings together councils, police, fire services and other local agencies. It is therefore critically important that fire services develop the skills to work effectively in these partnerships, and make suitable provision for schemes involving young people that contribute to the partnerships' objectives.

London Fire Brigade has been developing this work for some years, running a number of programmes that aim to improve the self-esteem of young people, reduce anti-social behaviour and increase the range of opportunities that are open to young people in the wider community.

Deliberate fire setting accounts for almost half of all fires attended by London Fire Brigade, with as many as one in four such fires believed to have been set by children. The number of deliberate fires and hoax calls in the capital has fallen in recent years, particularly in boroughs with active London Fire Brigade schemes aimed at young people and the evidence strongly suggests that this is not coincidental. …

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