Police launch anti-arson program for summer

A new specialist taskforce will crack down on arsonists this summer, the State Government and police announced today.

The new unit will consist of 150 highly trained Bushfire, Arson and Explosives Liaison Officers (BAELOs) has been established to stamp out arson-related crimes.

“Across Victoria, these specially trained officers will strengthen arson prevention operations by providing expertise to local police, and assistance with prevention, intelligence and enforcement”, the Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, said.

The launch is a part of the state-wide operation - Operation Firesetter - focused on fire and arson prevention through the November to April bushfire season.

The Crime Assistant Commissioner, Stephen Fontana, noted that extra precautions may be taken to target known arsonists. “There may be surveillance tactics put in place at different times … but we also may approach them and speak to them,” he said.

The new precautions have been announced as a part of Fire Action Week, a campaign encouraging communities to report any suspected arsonists to police and educating the community of fire dangers during the period.

Mr Baillieu said families should take precautions for the bushfire season, including the preparation of emergency kits should a fire occur.

Police said more than 3000 arson related offences occurred in Victoria in 2011, risking lives and property. The maximum penalty for arson causing death in Victoria is 25 years imprisonment.

Community members can help by reporting suspicious behaviour to police, by calling Triple-0 or contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

This story Police launch anti-arson program for summer first appeared on The Age.