Children are not angels, and making mistakes and learning from them is part of growing up.
But what if your child was committing serious, dangerous offences such as wilful fire-raising – would you be willing to hand your son or daughter into the police?
The issue has raised its head recently after deliberate fires were started in Dundee and Fife, with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland taking up valuable time and resources to deal with them.
On Wednesday, gorse bushes were set alight in North Queensferry.
Groups of youths setting fires seems to be the theme across #WestFife tonight. The latest near to St.Margaret’s Marsh beside #NorthQueensferry👇. Attending with @fire_scot for a fire in the gorse bushes. @CowdenbeathPol having similar issues. Parents/guardians, #WhereIsYourChild? pic.twitter.com/k7148Qfk7u
— South West Fife Police (@SWFifePolice) April 7, 2021
Fife Police PC Richard Duncan, of Dalgety Bay Police Station, said: “We were made aware of fires started in the St Margaret’s Marsh area near North Queensferry around 6.45pm on Wednesday, 7 April.
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended and extinguished the fire. Nobody was injured.
“All forms of anti-social behaviour have a disruptive effect on local communities and deliberately setting fires is particularly reckless.
“It is worth stressing that the vast majority of young people do not come to the attention of police.
“A small minority do sometimes become involved in anti-social behaviour and police will take appropriate action where incidents are reported and offenders identified.
“I would also urge parents and guardians to make sure that they know where their children are, who they are associating with and what they are doing.
“Anyone who has concerns about anti-social behaviour in their area is encouraged to contact police by calling 101 as promptly as possible.”
The call from PC Duncan follows a similar plea from Sergeant Karen Judge of Downfield Police Office last month.
She asked parents to report their children if they come home in the evenings smelling of smoke or accelerant.
Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called out to attend six deliberate fires across the city on Sunday February 28 and Monday March 1.
On the evening of February 28, four fires were set in just an hour and a half, including on Derwent Avenue, Gleneagles Avenue, Ashmore Street and in woodland around Caird Park.
There were then two further deliberate fires the following Monday night, in Turnberry Avenue and Pitkerro Road.
‘Reckless and incredibly dangerous’
Despite Police Scotland sending out a warning on the “reckless and incredibly dangerous” impact of deliberately setting fires, no arrests have been made and the force says it cannot yet say whether or not the fires were set by same the individual or group.
Sgt Judge said: “It is extremely disappointing to have to deal with incidents of this nature.
“Those involved are exposing themselves and others to huge danger, and are also wasting the time of emergency services who are needed elsewhere.
“I would ask all parents in the area to ensure you know where your children are in the evening, that they are complying with Covid-19 regulations about being out with the home, and if they are coming home smelling of smoke or accelerant than you should be notifying us.”
Gordon Pryde, Dundee area commander at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, asked parents to educate their children about the fatal consequences of fires.
“Deliberate fires have the potential to cause injury and even death or cause devastating damage to our environment and properties,” he said.
“They are a needless drain on emergency service resources at a difficult time.
“Last year we saw restrictions put in place on social movement and this year is no different as we continue to tackle this pandemic.
“As well as limits on how far people can travel, we also know that schools, clubs and community groups are affected or unable to open due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“Our firefighters and community action teams have been and will continue to work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages.
“But as we cannot conduct school visits or engage with young people directly through clubs and groups, I would ask parents, guardians and carers to help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks and consequences of deliberate fire setting.
“It is vital we continue to remind people that deliberate fire setting is a crime and a criminal record can affect future life and job opportunities – a price that can be easily avoided.”
With this in mind, how would you react if your child came in smelling of smoke or adulterant, or if you had other suspicions they had started a fire?