A NEW campaign is urging residents to report any suspicious behaviour on Dorset's heathand and help cut the number of fires.

Visitors to the area's heaths are being asked to “be alert and proactive” in reporting any antisocial behaviour or fires over the next few weeks.

Incidents of arson on heathland tend to increase during the school summer holidays, prompting a joint awareness campaign from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, Dorset Police and the Urban Heath Partnership.

Gaynor Mant, community safety education officer at DFRS, said: “As the summer holidays approach, understandably more people want to get out and use Dorset's natural environments.

“There is a trend that the number of deliberately set fires on the heathland increases.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to take extra care when enjoying our heaths and open areas. If you are a smoker, extinguish cigarettes fully before disposing of them - never ever just throw them away lit, similar to throwing them out from car windows - the result could be 50 to 100 firefighters tackling the subsequent blaze.”

Heathland fires can move at speeds faster than an Olympic sprinter so anyone noticing a blaze is asked to call 999 with as much information as possible. Antisocial behaviour should be reported to the police on 101.

The Urban Heath Partnership is also warning that anyone caught starting a fire on a heath will be prosecuted, whether it is a case of deliberate arson or neglect.