Victoria Police will maintain its hard-line approach towards reckless behaviour this summer season with the launch of a new operation.
As the state settles in for another sweltering summer, police are preparing to activate Operation Safeguard, aiming to reduce the occurrence and impact of intentional and reckless fires.
Operation Safeguard replaces Operation Firesetter. The operation has been renamed to increase the focus on the primary cause of fires during summer being reckless behaviour.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger said police would not tolerate careless behaviour which has the potential to cause widespread harm.
“It might seem like leaving a campfire unattended or operating machinery on a total fire ban day is not a huge issue,” AC Grainger said.
“The reality is the majority of fires are caused through reckless actions like these.
“This careless behaviour has the same potential consequences as that caused by arson, easily leading to the destruction of life and property.
“We will be adopting a hard-line approach to any deliberately or recklessly caused bushfires.
“Operation Safeguard includes police having a high visible presence, particularly in fire-prone areas on days of elevated fire danger.
“We will be relentless in gathering intelligence and investigating any fire deemed suspicious.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to be mindful of their activities during fire danger periods, otherwise your actions could result in the cause of a bushfire.”
Anyone found guilty of recklessly or intentionally causing a bushfire faces a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment.
Lighting a fire on a total fire ban day can also attract a fine of up to $37,000 or up to two years in jail.
AC Grainger also identified the significant role the community and emergency services personnel play in helping police detect and prevent fires.
“Rest assured that information provided by the community is our most valuable tool,” AC Grainger said.
“The information provided by members of the public is a contemporary and real-time source of intelligence that police use on a daily basis.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour as it is occurring should call Triple Zero (000) and anyone with any information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au