Acting Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Edward O’Donohue, today launched this year’s Crime Stoppers Bushfire Arson Campaign, calling on the community to take action against arson.
“Arsonists are responsible for a significant proportion of bushfires, some of which have ended in tragedy, and the community has a part to play in stopping them.” Mr O’Donohue said.
“There must be a zero-tolerance approach to deliberately or recklessly lit fires in our state, which means taking action to catch arsonists before their criminal behaviour has devastating consequences.”
The campaign, a joint initiative between Victoria Police and Crime Stoppers Victoria, arose from the final report of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission, which called for a comprehensive, coordinated statewide approach to arson prevention.
The annual campaign raises awareness of bushfire arson in Victoria, urging the community to take action by speaking up if they have concerns about possible bushfire arson.
“In some cases, members of the public are aware of a piece of crucial information that can help solve crimes,” said Mr O’Donohue.
Victoria Police crime statistics indicate that there were 55 offences of intentionally causing a bushfire in 2012-13, up from 32 offences the previous year.
“The seriousness of bushfire arson crime cannot be understated and Victoria has some of the toughest penalties in Australia for bushfire-related offences, including imprisonment for up to 25 years.
“Bushfire prevention is the responsibility of all Victorians. If you have concerns about a member of your family, a friend or a colleague, they might need help and I urge you to speak up,” Mr O’Donohue said.
The campaign is funded as part of an ongoing agreement between the government and Crime Stoppers Victoria and receives support from a range of other partners.
Funding includes $300,000 per annum for Crime Stoppers Victoria to enhance community awareness and improve promote the reporting of possible arsonist activity.
A further $200,000 per annum is provided to Victoria Police’s Crime Stoppers Unit to engage two intelligence analysts to help reduce deliberately lit fires across Victoria by targeting suspicious, intentional or reckless bushfire activity.
“The government is proud to support the work Crime Stoppers and Victoria Police perform to drive down crime and keep our community safe,” Mr O’Donohue said.
If you see something suspicious, report it by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Triple Zero (000).