The three main schemes evaluated were the Arson Reduction Teams, Arson Small Grants programme and Grass Fires Initiative. This evaluation aimed to provide evidence of the benefits of the three schemes and evidence on which to guide future arson prevention work.
Overall, the ARTs appeared to be conducting a large amount of arson reduction activity that was in line with good practice. The methods that the ARTs used were also of a high standard. All work was targeted and all teams worked in partnership with appropriate outside agencies, as well as having close working relationships with the FRS and the Police. Good working relationships with the Police were primarily facilitated via a seconded Police Officer in each team. Although the work was of a high standard and in line with good practice, there is limited statistical evidence that the ARTs helped to accelerate the reduction in deliberate fires.
It was not possible to say with certainty why the rate of decline did not accelerate. However it may be that other factors strongly influenced the rate of deliberate fires, namely the rate of job seekers allowance claimants – as a representation of unemployment, mean summer temperature and the price of scrap metal. There were strong correlations between the latter factors, such as price of scrap metal, which left little variance for an impact on deliberate fires from arson reduction work.
It was not possible to ascertain whether the amount of arson reduction activity increased or decreased after the launch of the ARTs, because there is very limited activity data available for the period before the launch of the teams with which to compare activity levels after their launch. In addition to this, there were no targets or benchmarks in place to define what was required of the ARTs, against which to later measure their work.
The study identified specific areas for improvement, mainly in terms of monitoring and performance management.
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