A CAMPAIGN to reduce arson in Shropshire is paying off, according to the fire service.

Despite a record-breaking heatwave in July and early August which saw firefighters around the UK battling scores of grassland and moorland fires, many believed to have been the work of arsonists, Shropshire has suffered fewer deliberate fires than it did during the same period (January – July) last year.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has so far this year recorded 180 deliberate fires, compared with 199 for the same period last year.

The fire service’s arson prevention team believes the reduction is largely due to the safety campaigns and education initiatives it has run in schools throughout the year.

Team member Derek Taylor said: "The latest figures are a strong indication that our campaigns, particularly the work we do in schools and through the multi-agency Crucial Crew safety education roadshows, is having a direct and positive effect and that is very good news indeed.

"We have worked closely with schools and our colleagues in the police, housing providers, local authorities and many other partners to deliver fire safety and arson prevention initiatives and these campaigns are definitely making a positive difference.

He added: "Arson is an issue for every fire service in the country and it is not going to go away. In Shropshire we will continue to devise and deliver innovative campaigns and initiatives and to look for new ways of getting our arson prevention message across."