Youth fined for setting fire to wheelie bins.

A 17 year-old youth, who set fire to two wheelie bins in the Hawthorne Road area of St. Helens, has been charged with two offences of criminal damage and appeared at St. Helens Magistrates Court on 21/1/11.

The youth, who pleaded guilty, was made to pay £52.50 compensation to St. Helens Council for the cost of the two bins as well as £50.00 in court costs. The youth was also given an 18-month conditional discharge (released without any further punishment on condition that no other offences are committed within the set time period – or they may be brought back to court and re-sentenced.)

Councillor Susan Murphy, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Safer Communities and Youth said: “This is positive result. The council has seen an increasing number of arson attacks on wheelie bins throughout the borough – having to replace 3,500 wheelie bins in the last 12 months alone.

“Local agencies, which form the St. Helens Community Safety Partnership, will continue to work together to tackle this issue and tough measures will be taken against those who attack wheelie bins – they are endangering people’s lives and putting strains on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service resources.”

Neighbourhood Inspector Chris Gibson adds: “Following a number of reported thefts of bins and subsequent arson, a mixture of both uniformed and plain clothes officers began patrolling the disused railway line where we believed that youths were setting fire to the bins.

“After someone reported their bin stolen on the Friday night, officers caught the youth red-handed setting fire to the bin and they were then arrested. This result shows what we can achieve by working together with our partners and with information from the public."

Phil Lorenzo, Arson Reduction Advocate for St. Helens Council, Safer Communities added: “Everyone has a responsibility to look after their wheelie bin. It’s a legal requirement – if you leave your bin out repeatedly you could be fined £100 – and you’re also leaving it vulnerable to arson attacks.  Storing your wheelie bin out of sight or behind locked gates will greatly reduce the potential for abuse and criminal damage.”