Work done by the service’s joint fire and police community safety team has saved society millions of pounds, in addition to making people safer, a report says.
Produced by a team of social return on investment experts, the report looks at different areas of work carried out by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police in recent years.
One of these projects is the fire service’s ‘Home Safety Visit’ scheme that, according to the findings, generates a potential £15 saving to society for every pound spent.
This is based on the economic cost to society of house fires and injuries – which are reduced as a result of safety visits – in comparison to the cost of the visits themselves.
The fire service’s ‘Safe & Well Check’ scheme was also evaluated in the report, as was ‘Think Family’ – a programme that targets the families of young people involved in arson.
These two initiatives have saved £30 and £25 for every pound spent on them, respectively, with the five areas of work examined estimated to have saved society around £30 million in total.
“Our community safety staff work tirelessly all year round and clearly we’re really pleased with the results of this study,” said Area Manager Steve Helps, head of the service’s joint police and fire community safety department.
“We’ve been able to see the success of our work in recent years through incident reductions but it’s really good for us to see what financial benefits have been brought about for local people.
“The reality is that the incidents we attend don’t just affect us. An arson attack, for example, affects our communities, our colleagues at the police, the court services and of course the owner of the property which has been damaged – be it on public land, such as in a park, or on private land.
“Then you take a house fire where someone’s been injured. Not only does it affect us but the ambulance service and local hospitals will be involved, too, as they will often spend thousands of pounds providing immediate care and long-term rehabilitation for those affected.
“There’s then the cost of repairing damage caused to the property and the effects on the occupants who may have to have time off work.
“By reducing incidents through the work the joint department has done we’ve not only been able to make South Yorkshire safer, but we’ve been able to save the public purse a lot of money, and we’re really proud of that.”
The other schemes evaluated in the study were Crucial Crew and the service’s programme of school presentations – of which there are three different types dependent on age group.
Crucial Crew, which is led by South Yorkshire Police staff, sees 16,000 year six school children spend a day at the Lifewise Centre in Rotherham each year – where they are taught about the impact of anti-social behaviour, cyber crime, arson and citizenship, along with much more.
The aim of this project is to build good relationships between children and police, prevent young people from being a victim of crime and also prevent them from getting involved in crime.
The research found that this saved £10 for every pound spent – as did the fire service’s programme of educational school visits.