Hawick and Denholm ward a blackspot for deliberate fires, figures reveal

20 firefighters were on the scene. Picture: JP
20 firefighters were on the scene. Picture: JP

Scottish Borders Council’s Hawick and Denholm ward has been hit by the second highest number of deliberately-started fires in the region in recent years, new figures reveal.

Over the last five years, there have been 431 deliberate fires started across the region.

Galashiels and district has been consistently the highest offender, accounting for 19% of all such incidences, but next worst is Hawick and Denholm, on 12%.

Of the 96 deliberate fires started last financial year, 11 were in Hawick and Denholm ward, making it third worst in the Borders behind Galashiels on 24 and Jedburgh on 12.

A report presented to members of the council’s Tweeddale area locality committee this week said a reduction in deliberate fire-setting continues to be a priority for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in the Borders.

The report stated: “Deliberate fires of this nature typically involve grassland, refuse or derelict buildings.

“Evidence shows there is often a close link between deliberate secondary fires and anti-social behaviour.

“Deliberate fires can often be of a sporadic nature, although increases in operational response activity generally coincide with the spring and summer months.

“There have been 431 deliberate fires in the Scottish Borders over the last five years.

“Galashiels and district has consistently seen the greatest incidence of deliberate fires, accounting for 19% of the five-year Borders total.

“Hawick and Denholm and Jedburgh and district are next highest, accounting for 12% and 10% of the Borders total respectively.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service offers a range of diversionary and educational programmes for younger people such as Cooldown Crew and Crucial Crew that highlight the consequences of starting fires deliberately.

“The rescue service’s recent TD1 initiative was not only innovative but also popular, and this format, where younger people’s personal and team skills are developed to boost employment chances and encourage good citizenship, will be developed for potential use across the Scottish Borders.”

The report also highlights the work being carried out to reduce the number of turn-outs by fire crews to false alarm fires.

Of the 870 unwanted fire alarm signals received in the Borders over the last year, the highest incidences were in Galashiels, with 116; Tweeddale West, with 111; and Hawick and Hermitage, on 96.