Could new youth clubs be the answer to stop arson attacks in Wisbech?

A NEW series of youth clubs could be the answer to stop arson attacks in the area, the fire service has said.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service believes social clubs aimed at teenagers can keep children off the streets and from starting fires.

First looking to establish the clubs in the Waterlees area of Wisbech, where low-level arson is a persistent nuisance, firefighters think the initiative could be rolled out elsewhere.

Martin Ockenden, pictured, risk manager and station commander, said: “I hope if we can get these clubs started and establish them then we can give these young people something to do and keep them from starting fires.

“There are a lot of low level, or secondary, fires but they can cost �400 to put out and have the potential to be a lot more serious and even put lives at risk.”

Working with the police and Wisbech Town Council, the scheme is set to start by introducing three clubs: martial arts, dance and scouts.

Known offenders and other youths that various agencies are working with will be invited to the clubs. Representatives from the clubs will also visit Thomas Clarkson Community College to attract teenagers’ interest.

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Rick Hylton, area commander for community safety, said: “Sadly, anti-social behaviour - such as arson - costs taxpayers in Cambridgeshire millions of pounds a year to put right and you only need to look around Wisbech to see the negative impact that arson can have on a community.

“This is a scheme which rewards young people who have behaved well with opportunities to try different sports classes, such as self-defence, as well as scout groups and street dancing.”