The message was simple, Kick Arson Into Touch.

With bonfire night approaching, the brigade will be stretched to their limit across the region.

The Brigade has teamed up with MFC Foundation on the Premier League Kicks programme where more than 1,000 young people are taking part in free sessions across the region.

Sessions are held across 13 different venues, with many taking place in areas where the largest number of deliberate fires were recorded last year. Fire Brigade staff and crews will pop along to give first-hand advice on the dangers of arson.

The campaign comes at a time when the latest figures show a rise in the number of deliberate fires across Cleveland. In the last three years there has been a 35% rise with 2,704 recorded in 2016/17 compared to 3,658 in 2018/19.

From April to June this year there have been 1,249 deliberate fires, compared to 884 for the same period last year – a 41% increase.

Steve Johnson, Area Manager, Prevention and Protection, said: “We take deliberate fires very seriously. These fires can be extremely dangerous and spread quickly. They have devastating effects on the environment, our communities and can potentially cause serious injuries. They also divert our resources away from real emergencies where lives may be at risk. 

“This is a first class initiative which will help keep young people on the ball and away from anti-social behaviour. We want everyone to be part of a winning team when it comes to keeping our communities safe for everybody. This is a powerful way to get the message across.”

Premier League Kicks runs through to May 2020 and is aimed at young people aged 8-19.

The programme was formerly branded as Kickz and began in London as a pilot project between the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police with a vision to 'build safer, stronger and more respectful communities.' 

It is now delivered in 69 areas across the country and has achieved notable results in reducing anti-social behaviour.

The sessions are taking place at:

  • Acklam Green Centre, Acklam
  • Corner House Youth Centre, Stockton
  • Easterside Community Hub Muga
  • Freeborough Academy, Brotton
  • Hemlington Recreational Centre
  • Herlingshaw Centre, Eston
  • Lingdale Youth Centre, Saltburn
  • Loftus Community Centre
  • Newport Settlement, Middlesbrough
  • North Ormesby Muga
  • Pallister Park Courts
  • Skelton De Brus Centre
  • Trinity Catholic College, Middlesbrough