Oswestry Police Chief Calls For Public Help In Tracing Arsonists
Most of the attacks have been on wheelie bins in the Castlefields area during the past few weeks. Two other incidents were in the town centre and another in Holly Green.
Inspector Rik Klair, Oswestry's senior police officer, has been working with other agencies to tackle the problem, including Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, Shropshire Council, the Safer Shropshire Partnership and Bromford Living.
He has sent a letter on behalf of all the agencies to residents in Castlefields explaining the steps taken by the police and other authorities while appealing for their support in helping trace the arsonists.
Inspector Klair said everyone was concerned that if the fires continued, they could spread to someone's home, possibly trapping people inside.
"Many of these fires have involved wheelie bins or rubbish close to people's homes very late at night. Flames could so easily spread to a house and could trap the occupants inside with tragic consequences."
He said the police were determined to find those responsible and urged people to contact the police in confidence by calling 101, or if they preferred, to call the anonymous Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.
In his letter to residents, Inspector Klair says: "The four recent attacks on waste bins in Castlefields are being thoroughly investigated and the utmost is being done to prevent further incidents.
"I met with the Fire Service and local councillor Vince Hunt on Tuesday (Aug 14) and it was agreed that your assistance in apprehending and convicting those responsible is the most important element.
"I know the people who have caused these fires are local. To this end, I ask you to let me know the names of those responsible. We are very interested in the names of people who are causing your community problems. I assure you I will act with our partner agencies very swiftly on any information you provide."
He said the police had stepped up patrols in the area and officers would be reporting any potential fire hazards to the council. Officers would also be searching and seizing cigarettes and lighters from those under 18.
The council is replacing damaged bins while crime prevention and a lighting survey had been requested for the area. Anti-social and dispersal orders will be authorised for those causing problems.
The fires in the town were on August 7 just before midnight when a wheelie bin was set alight and on July 20 in Church Street involving a litter bin. The Holly Green park on August 9 was a hedge fire.
Inspector Klair said Local Policing Teams were also visiting local schools to talk about the dangers of lighting fires.
He also urged residents not to leave combustible items and other rubbish where it was easily accessible and to dispose of it properly.
"By everyone working together, we can hopefully put a stop to these fires. People can pass on information in strict confidence for the good of the community as a whole," Inspector Klair added.