THE number of straw stack fires in Cambridgeshire has fallen for the fourth year running.

Cambridgeshire police has teamed up with the county's firefighters, Countryside Watch and the National Farmers' Union for Operation Armitage to crack down on stack fires.

Pc Robin Smith said: "These fires cost businesses thousands of pounds and also cause huge disruption to rural communities and motorists.

"We are using a range of tactics, including the use of covert equipment, to identify and catch anyone committing this type of crime.

"Offenders will be arrested and face being taken to court. However, there is also an important safety issue to consider. Those responsible are not only risking their own lives but potentially the lives of others."

Martin Boome, arson liaison officer at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We take a dim view of any kind of fire which is started deliberately - including stack fires. This type of fire has the potential to kill, not only those in the nearby vicinity, but also the arsonists themselves.

"A stack fire can tie up fire and police resources for several hours, which means people starting them deliberately are impacting on our response to other emergency calls.

"We are working closely with the police to reduce this type of fire and to bring offenders to justice.

"Intelligence on possible offenders is being built, not only from incidents that have occurred but also from within the community."

INFORMATION: Any information regarding suspects or suspicious activities around straw stacks should be reported to police by calling 101, 999 in an emergency or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.