Article date – 22 October 2018
Now in its ninth year, ‘Be a Good Guy’ aims to make St Helens a safe and welcoming place to be this autumn, with this year’s focus around ‘preventing’ nuisance fires, anti-social behaviour and damage to the environment; ‘educating’ people around the laws and consequences; and ‘celebrating’ how to celebrate festivities the safe way.
New to this year’s campaign is the introduction of a Halloween card for residents to display in their windows if they would prefer not to receive visits from trick or treaters this Halloween.
Halloween is an event that has become more and more popular over the years, but for some, the idea of strangers knocking on their doors throughout the night with their faces covered can be an overwhelming experience.
Less than a week after Halloween sees the return of Bonfire Night.
Crime reduction partner agencies, including St Helens Council, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS), Merseyside Police, Torus, Riverside Housing and others, will be working together to remove the source of unsafe nuisance fires from public land.
Once again, residents are asked to report any build-ups of combustible waste in public spaces to help keep St Helens safe from anti-social behaviour, firework nuisance and the lighting of dangerous fires.
This year’s Be a Good Guy campaign was officially launched at an event held by community group, Wargrave Big Local, at Newton Community Centre where crime reduction partners were on hand to offer advice to local youths on keeping safe and staying out of trouble during the campaign.
St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, Councillor Anthony Burns, said: “Halloween and Bonfire Night are events that a lot of people get enjoyment out of, but it’s also important to be courteous to those who don’t wish to participate in such festivities, and of course to put health and safety first.
“The aim of the Halloween card is not to discourage anyone or spoil anyone’s fun, but to give residents the option to participate if they would like to, or to not to participate if they don’t.
“As for Bonfire Night, all fires can be dangerous and unpredictable. Even a small build-up of waste once lit can easily spread, especially if lit close to nearby buildings, trees, fences and other flammable material.
“We’re not trying to be killjoys; we simply want to hear about any organised events so that we can signpost people to them so that the occasion can be enjoyed in a safe environment.”
Comment from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service: “Michael Buratti, Arson Team Manager for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service said: “We would like everyone to enjoy the Halloween and Bonfire period as safely as possible. Organised events are the best way to watch and enjoy fireworks and bonfires with your family and friends as they provide a safe environment.
“Deliberately started fires on the run up to bonfire night are a huge drain on already overstretched Fire Service resources. Attending such fires may delay our response to a life threatening incident.
“We would urge people on the run-up to bonfire night to report any build-up of combustible materials that could be used for deliberate fires by calling 0800 731 5958 or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
“Last year, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service attended 80 wheelie bin fires over the bonfire period. We would advise that if you have a wheelie bin, to store it out of sight so it cannot be stolen and set alight. If your bin is stolen, you may have to pay for a replacement.”
Jeff Keenan, Neighbourhood Team Leader at Torus said: “Operation Good Guy is a real success story. By working together as partners across St Helens we have made our communities safer and cleaner for everyone.”
Louise Forshaw, Chair of Wargrave Big Local, said: “It was a privilege for this year’s Good Guys event to be held in Wargrave. It brought together lots of different agencies and provided local residents with a wealth of information about keeping themselves safe at this time of year.
“It’s really good to be able to provide residents with information and advice that helps them to help themselves to be more resilient to crime, the most important thing we can do is equip people with the skills and knowledge they need. Altogether the event was enjoyed by all ages, and working in partnership with St Helens Council this event helps to continue to make a difference to the area.”
The council’s free organised firework display takes place on Monday 5 November at Sherdley Park and promises to be a truly spectacular night.
To find out about other fun, safe organised activities available for young people over the autumn period, visit the YAZ website.
For more information on Be a Good Guy, including how to download your free trick or treat card, visit safer.sthelens.gov.uk
Photo caption: The Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens pictured with crime reduction partners and members of Wargrave Big Local at the launch of this year’s ‘Be a Good Guy’ campaign at Newton Community Centre.