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Empty building warning as Summer Holidays approach

Parents and youngsters are being advised of the dangers of going into derelict or closed buildings this summer.

The Isle of Wight Community Safety Partnership (CSP) is warning that secured buildings and sites can be dangerous due to potential structural problems or hazardous materials, which could cause health problems or serious injury.

The CSP key partners – the council, police and fire and rescue service – are working with owners of empty sites to ensure they are as secure as possible.

However, the council is appealing for the public to report any unsecured buildings or sites to its empty property officer, so that appropriate action can be taken.

“There are so many safe places for children and young people to play and explore on the Isle of Wight, and plenty of organised activities taking place during the summer holidays. We would encourage parents to be aware of where their children are playing with their friends, and make them aware of the hazards that abandoned buildings and unsecured sites can pose,” said Councillor Barry Abraham, Cabinet member for planning and housing.

Howard Watts, senior officer for the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Empty buildings are often targeted by arsonists, this not only poses a risk to those setting the fire but also to members of the emergency services called to respond to the incident.”

Backing the safety call, District Commander for the Isle of Wight, Superintendent Sarah Jackson from Hampshire Constabulary, said: “Youngsters should be reminded of the dangers of entering disused buildings and we would like to remind people who live close to an empty or derelict property to be aware and to be vigilant, watching out for any suspicious activity.

“Trespassing itself is not a criminal offence, but it is commonly associated with criminal damage and anti-social behaviour, which we have a number of powers that we can use to address. If groups of children or teenagers are seen at an unused site, we will advise them about the dangers and ask them to leave in the first instance”.

If you are aware of an unsecured empty building or site please contact Will Taylor, the council’s empty property officer, on (01983) 821000 ext: 6935.

Anyone who sees someone acting suspiciously in their area is asked to call 101.