Three 12-year-old boys in Australia are being dealt with under the Young Offenders Act after officers discovered they had deliberately lit fires in New South Wales’ South Coast.
Two of the boys, who have not been named, allegedly started a grass fire at a reserve in Koonawarra, Wollongong, at 10.20am on Sunday, December 1. In accordance with the Young Offenders Act, the boys will now go to a youth conference for the offence of cause a bushfire.
In a separate incident on the same day, the third boy was given a caution after he allegedly lit a small fire behind a sports club in the Wollongong suburb of Warilla. Firefighters were fortunately able to extinguish both blazes.
Lake Illawarra Police District Inspector Brian Pedersen has expressed concern over the number of deliberately lit fires in the region, noting young people were ‘continuing to ignore the message about how dangerous fires can be’, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Inspector Pedersen said:
We are urging the whole community to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.
Information provided to police from members of the public can help us identify and suppress firebugs before they start lighting.
I want to urge members of the community; if you see something, say something. If you have suspicions at all and wish to report a crime, don’t take the risk – contact police or Crime Stoppers.
Youth justice conferencing is a legal process which encompasses a variety of practices based upon restorative principles.
This process is intended to allow ‘the offender(s) to address the harm they have caused, rather than going through a court’.
This isn’t the first time in recent months young people in New South Wales have been caught out starting fires.
Three girls in the area were arrested for arson in August, as reported by ABC Mid North Coast.
The children, aged 12, 13 and 14, were arrested in South Kempsey and dealt with under the Young Offenders Act after allegedly igniting more than 13 grassfires.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) spokesperson Greg Allan made the following statement at the time:
It’s a criminal act and basically it puts the lives of the public and firefighters at pretty grave risk.
We say to anyone who’s stupid enough to deliberately light a fire that they should know they will be caught … and they will be brought before the courts.
Residents of New South Wales are continuing to suffer on account on the ongoing bush fires in the area, which have destroyed wildlife and claimed multiple lives.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.