Saturday, January 09, 2010

alleged arsonist caught in sherbrooke forest

On Friday police arrested a 26 year old man on four counts of lighting a fire in a national park, two counts of conduct endangering life and one count of failing to answer bail.

It was detestable to learn that this person allegedly has been deliberately lighting fires in the Dandenong Ranges. It is an abhorrent crime of which the consequences could be disastrous. Police did a great job of tracking the suspected arsonist, utilising 24 officers and a police helicopter, their commitment to finding the suspect unfailing. Their work was a great success with police nabbing the suspect who will appear at the Ringwood Magistrates Court on Monday (11/01).

It has been reported that the arrested man told the hearing at Belgrave Police Station that he was homeless and been suffering from illness for the past two months.

Although the alleged crime is heinous and reprehensible this leads to broader questions about how we as a society deal with factors that create a bushfire arsonist including the issues of homelessness and mental illness.

There is no doubt homeless people are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to accessing health care among many other things. Where are adequate support services for our homeless, where is appropriate funding for public housing, where is the coordinated effort across government to deal with homelessness? I could ask similar questions about our mental health system.

Clearly not all arsonists are homeless, indeed arson is a complex matter with many different factors at play, but there is no doubt we need better long term plans and strategies to ensure a healthy society. There are grave consequences to not adequately addressing mental health and homelessness in our community. The alleged lighting of fires in Sherbrooke Forest highlights the potential of some of these consequences.

Not only do we have to ensure that the police and our firefighters are properly resourced to deal with the issue of arson and that our communities are educated to adequately prepare and plan for a bushfire event, but we also need to take longer term action to ensure that arsonists do not flourish in our society.

I urge residents to be watchful, keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour and report it to the police.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker