Good Guy returns to make borough safer at Halloween and Bonfire Night
The annual campaign that helps to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour during the run up to Halloween and Bonfire Night is back with a bang.
The 'Be a Good Guy' campaign aims to make St Helens Borough a safe and welcoming place for all 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 many of us look forward to, but for some the prospect of people knocking on their door all night is not an enjoyable one - especially for older or vulnerable people.
Residents are able to print off Halloween cards to indicate whether or not they are happy to participate in trick or treating, available online at http://safer.sthelens.gov.uk/pages/be-a-good-guy/celebrating-halloween-safely/.
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 Borough 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. Regular checks will also be made to alley gates in priority areas, to ensure wheelie bins cannot be a target for deliberate fires.
Local retailers will be discouraged from selling eggs and flour to young people in the days before Bonfire Night, while briefings have been shared with pubs and other venues with guidance on how to properly manage waste and to hold fireworks events safely
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.
The safest way to enjoy Bonfire Night is to attend organised displays. This year the council has partnered with St Helens RFC to host a fantastic laser light and pyrotechnics display at the Totally Wicked Stadium. While tickets have sold out, there are other community-led displays happening around the borough in Sutton, Newton-le-Willows and Eccleston.
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."
St Helens Local Policing Inspector Jon Smith said: "We want this time of year to be safe and enjoyable for everyone, so please follow all the prevention and safety guidance you'll be seeing from the council, ourselves and other blue light services.
"We'd encourage people to take part in some of the fantastic events being organised across the region, and we know the vast majority of people in St Helens will be considerate and sensible. We'll have increased patrols out and about to ensure that people can enjoy this time with confidence.
"For the few who see this time of year as an excuse for antisocial behaviour, however, let me emphasise that those officers will be taking a swift, no-nonsense approach to any acts of criminality. It will simply not be tolerated.
"If anyone has any concerns or worries, please don't suffer in silence. Get in touch us via 101 or online. That's what we're here for."
Franny Hill, Group Manager from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: "We would like everyone to enjoy the Halloween and Bonfire period as safely as possible. We know lots of people will be looking forward to dressing up and getting into the Halloween spirit but please be mindful of the dangers of Halloween costumes, particularly around naked flames. Halloween costumes are classed as toys and don't go through the same safety testing as regular clothes - this means they can catch fire easily and burn quickly. Make sure to keep children wearing costumes away from candles, naked flames and other heat sources. When carving your pumpkins, try to use LED battery-operated candles instead of real tea-lights. They give the same spooky effect but without the risk of fire.
"We would urge people not to have their own bonfire and firework displays at home and instead attend an organised display where possible. However, if you do have a bonfire at home, make sure there is enough room to do so and ensure that bonfires are well clear of anything that could catch fire such as trees, bushes, fences, sheds or gazebos. Fireworks should only be used by a responsible adult and they must follow the Firework Code at all times. You should only buy fireworks from retailers registered with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service. When you buy fireworks from an unlicensed seller, you are putting yourself and others at risk. Someone selling fireworks from their home, their car or at the pub does not have a licence. You might think you are getting a good deal but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is - counterfeit fireworks can seriously injure you and those around you.
"Deliberately started fires on the run up to bonfire night are a huge drain on already overstretched fire service resources. What may seem like a bit of harmless fun to some can have life changing consequences and puts entire communities at risk. If firefighters are responding to a wheelie bin fire or illegal bonfire, it prevents them from responding to another incident. Please have a conversation with your children about right and wrong.
"You can help to reduce the number of incidents this bonfire period by never giving combustible materials to anyone, especially young people, and making sure your wheelie bin is out of sight - only put it out on collection day and bring it back in in as soon as possible. We would urge people on the run-up to bonfire night to report any combustible material that could be used for deliberate fires via our website www.merseyfire.gov.uk, by calling 0800 731 5958 (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm) or via our social media pages."
Fly-tipped waste which can be a target of illegal fire setting can be reported to the council for clearance at www.sthelens.gov.uk/flytipping.
Underage firework sales can be reported to Trading Standards by email to email@example.com or by calling the council's Contact Centre on 01744 676789.
Antisocial behaviour can be reported to Merseyside Police on the non-emergency 101 number, or via Facebook and Twitter at @MerPolCC. To report a crime, always contact 999 in an emergency.