Arson attacks down since common patrols launched

Arson attacks on Woodbury Common have ceased since May’s launch of undercover patrols, the fire service has revealed.

Project Hawkeye was officially launched in May by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) with help from partner agencies, with the aim of curbing malicious blazes.

The fire service has hailed the drive a success, saying it had not received any reports of deliberately-started fires on the common in the four months since it was announced plain clothes firefighters would be patrolling the area.

Group manager Mike White, of DSFRS Exmouth group, said: “The number of deliberately-started fires since the launch of Project Hawkeye is zero.

“It does suggest that Project Hawkeye has been a very effective joint initiative. People may say it’s been a wet summer. While this maybe a contributing factor, I think people are being extra vigilant and helping us to pro-actively reduce the number of deliberately-started fires.”

Earlier this year, the fire service teamed up with the police, Clinton Devon Estates, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and the RSPB to actively monitor the commons during daytime hours and after dark in a bid to discourage would-be arsonists and gather evidence.

Posters were placed at all of the main car parks, reminding the public of their precise location and what to do if a fire is spotted.

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Project Hawkeye was launched following a fire on the common which engulfed and destroyed eight-and-a-half acres of heathland, near Aylesbeare.