A LEADING police officer has called on parents on a Wrexham estate to keep a closer eye on their children at night to help tackle an arson problem.
Acting Inspector for Wrexham Paul Wycherley said he was concerned at the number of youngsters he saw out on the street in Caia Park while patrolling late at night.
Speaking at a meeting of Caia Park Community Council he said he feared it could be contributing to the estate’s problems with deliberately lit fires and said he feared the problem could lead to a “serious incident” if it goes on unchecked.
“We’ve still had six arsons in your patch since the last community council meeting,” said Insp Wycherley.
“One thing everyone is saying is that young kids are doing it for thrills.
“One was a bin and one was a ‘for sale’ sign.
“I’m concerned at the number of young children on the streets when out on our patrols at night.
“I want parents to be questioning where are their kids at night. It [arson] is a harrowing experience and extremely dangerous.
“We’re going to have a serious incident on our hands.”
Smithfield councillor Jayne Johnson said she had encountered teenagers as young as 13 out late at night while working with youth teams.
And Cllr Keith Gregory said: “It’s not just at night, it’s early in the morning. It’s 3am and 4am and it’s the public who have got a big part to play in this to keep their eyes and ears open and to keep an eye on their children.”
Cartrefle councillor Brian Halley highlighted incidents of arson which had taken place on Bonfire Night in the Kingsley Circle area.
He said: “There have been complaints from residents in the Kingsley Circle area of large groups of children gathering every night, seven nights a week.
“Apparently there was a lot of trouble during Bonfire Night, fence panels were stolen and thrown onto the bonfire.”
PC Wesley Williams, who is returning as a community beat officer in Caia Park, said he would be going out to the Kingsley Circle area to hand out his contact card in case residents had any concerns.
He also highlighted work being undertaken to tackle arson in the area including Phoenix courses run by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service to deter youngsters who might become involved in starting fires.
“I’ve met with the fire service to try and see what projects have been put in place,” he said.
“PCSO Michelle Shirley has got quite a lot of work ongoing with arson.
“Obviously arson is impacting on Caia Park and we need to get a grip of that.”