Team helps jail arsonists

Melody Chinese restaurant in Commercial Road, Portsmouth

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JAIL terms of nearly 500 years have been dished out to firestarters after an arson investigation team was launched.

The Arson Task Force and its fire investigation team has secured its 200th conviction in a decade.

The team has investigated 2,000 blazes and found 1,300 were deliberate.

Investigations by the team, headed by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service station manager Damian Watts, have led to 474 years in prison, 32 years’ worth of community service orders handed out and 38 years’ worth of supervision orders being imposed.

Mr Watts said: ‘Having dedicated fire investigation officers mean our skills and specialities are not diluted.’

Students at the city’s university go there on 12-week placements.