A crackdown on deliberate fireraising in Levenmouth has saved the taxpayer more than a quarter of a million pounds in just seven months.
Firefighters have reported a 61% reduction in fire-setting across the area since the introduction of an anti-social behaviour initiative, which also tackled a growing motorbike menace.
Between the start of April and the end of October there were 128 fewer deliberate fires.
The success has been attributed to targeted funding to tackle the issue and more “boots on the ground”.
Levenmouth community inspector John Docherty, of Police Scotland, said the fire service had calculated the average cost of each incident as being £2,000, meaning a £256,000 saving for communities.
The success follows a 40% surge in fireraising between April and December last year, compared to the same period the previous year, despite falling rates across Fife as a whole.
Brannigan’s Hotel, the former Denbeath Club and Silverburn House were all burned to the ground in deliberately-set blazes in 2018, while dozens of wheelie bins and open spaces were also targeted.
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service recorded a 61% reduction in deliberate fire-setting in Levenmouth, to the lowest number we’ve ever had in the area,” said Mr Docherty.
“On Bonfire Night they had no calls at all, which is unheard of. It just goes to show the initiative had a positive impact on the young people we know were involved.”
He added: “These results are a direct result of funding from Levenmouth area committee and boots on the ground.
“It’s all proactive rather than reactive policing.”
The emergency services, councillors, council officers and charities have been working together to clamp down on anti-social behaviour in Levenmouth amid a growing number of complaints about fires, illegal motorbikes and quads and drinking in public places.
As well as a reduction in deliberate blazes, there has been a 60% reduction in the number of calls relating to the anti-social use of motorbikes, while 222 people have been charged with anti-social behaviour and road traffic offences and 60 vehicles were seized.
Levenmouth SNP councillor David Alexander said: “This is not just about value for money, it’s about saving lives.
“We’re not playing a game here. Everybody out there who participates in this has to understand we’re not going to take this anymore.
“Next year will be even better and we’ll get on top of it even more because of the intelligence we have gained here.”