An award winning campaign that helps to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour during the run up to Bonfire Night is back with a bang.
‘Be a Good Guy’ aims to make St Helens a safe and welcoming place to be by preventing nuisance fires, anti-social behaviour and damage to the environment; educating people around the laws and consequences; and celebrating Halloween and Bonfire Night in the safest ways.
Halloween is an event that has become more and more popular over the years, but for some the prospect of people knocking on their door all night is not an enjoyable one – especially for those who are elderly or vulnerable.
The Good Guy campaign introduced a Halloween card for residents to display in their windows if they would prefer not to receive visits from trick or treaters, available online at safer.sthelens.gov.uk.
Then it’s Bonfire Night, which while an enjoyable celebration for many across the borough, comes with its own concerns for some residents and emergency services.
Crime reduction partner agencies including St Helens Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), Merseyside Police and Torus will be working together to remove the source of unsafe nuisance fires from public land.
Lighting any type of fire in a public place without the permission of the landowner is illegal and extremely dangerous. Fire can easily spread to nearby buildings, trees and fences and some combustible materials, such as plastics, rubber or painted materials produce fumes which are toxic to people once lit. Illegal bonfires also often fuel anti-social behaviour and fireworks misuse.
Residents are asked to report any illegal bonfires being built in public spaces for removal to St Helens Council or MFRS.
The council's free organised firework display takes place on Tuesday, November 5 at Sherdley Park and promises to be a truly spectacular night; this year taking visitors on a journey back through time to the birth of the universe with Constellations: The Creation.
Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “We want everyone to enjoy the Halloween and Bonfire Night festivities as safely as possible, and with respect for our neighbours. By working with our community safety partners through Good Guy we’re supporting our communities to be more resilient to crime and antisocial behaviour.”
Temporary Superintendent Paddy Kelly said: “This is always a fun time of year and we want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the organised events and activities safely.
"Our message during this period is simple – anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and anyone caught committing this type of crime will face serious consequences.
“No one should ever feel afraid or vulnerable and I want to again reassure the public that there will be high-visibility patrols out and about and I encourage you to come and speak to us should you ever feel scared or at risk of someone else’s harmful behaviour.
"I would ask anyone considering taking part in criminal activity to really think; how would you feel if your family member or friend was too frightened to leave their own home or walk down the street? Under no circumstances is it ok to throw things at people, their homes or cars, commit criminal damage or abuse or intimidate people.
“Not only is causing damage by throwing objects a criminal offence, it is also illegal for those under the age of 18 to buy, carry, or use fireworks. Under the Explosives Act of 1875 it is also illegal to let off or throw a firework in a public place; so please consider the legal repercussions before engaging in this activity.
“By working together to actively prevent this, it could ensure that you don’t receive a knock at the door from a police officer informing you that your child has been arrested or, worse still, has been involved in a serious accident.”
Michael Buratti, Arson Team Manager for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service said: “We would like everyone to enjoy the Halloween and Bonfire period as safely as possible. Organised events are the best way to watch and enjoy fireworks and bonfires with your family and friends as they provide the safest environment.
“Deliberately started fires on the run up to bonfire night are a huge drain on already overstretched Fire Service Resources. Last year, we attended 366 deliberately started secondary fires involving wheelie bins, rubbish and bonfires. Attending fires like this takes our crews away from other incidents and could delay our response to a life-threatening incident – we can’t be in two places at once.
“Last year, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service attended 74 wheelie bin fires over the bonfire period. We would advise that if you have a wheelie bin, to store it out of sight so it cannot be stolen and set alight. If your bin is stolen, you may have to pay for a replacement.
“We would urge people on the run-up to bonfire night to report any build-up of combustible materials that could be used for deliberate fires by calling 0800 731 5958 or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.”
To report any build-up of combustible waste and fly-tipping on public land, call the council’s Contact Centre on 01744 676789 and quote “Good Guy”. You can also report via the council’s app – search “St Helens Council” in your app store.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is also offering a phone number to report fly tipping, which is through Fire Service Direct on 0800 731 5958.
To report a crime, always contact 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can call 101, contact @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK.
To find out about other fun, safe activities available for young people over the autumn period, visit yaz.sthelens.gov.uk.
For more information on Be a Good Guy, including how to download your free trick or treat card, visit safer.sthelens.gov.uk/goodguy.