FIRE crews have praised community groups that helped tackle crime on Bonfire Night, saying their efforts helped reduce anti social behaviour.

Work done by community groups over the period included surrounding a Bradford pub that was the planned target of an arson attack, preventing vandals from getting near the property.

West Yorkshire Fire Service said “letting the community police themselves” helped deal with a number of problem incidents over the Bonfire period, which this year was spread over four nights.

Members of West Yorkshire Fire Authority received an update on this year’s Bonfire Night operations at a meeting on Friday.

They were told that the fire service worked with West Yorkshire Police, community groups, local faith leaders and councillors to try to tackle the annual spike in anti social behaviour, arsons and violence against firefighters.

Although there were operations across West Yorkshire, the most incidents were reported in the Bradford area.

Jim Butters, area manager for WYFS, said: “Planning starts in Summer, that’s how big the Bonfire night operation is.

“We had people from lots of local groups out engaging with people in the streets which really helped. The biggest change in approach this year was to let the community police themselves. They were a massive help, especially in one case where there was a specific threat to a pub in the Girlington area.

“There were community leaders surrounding that property to put people off, and that was far more effective than us or the police could be.”

He said there were extra fire crews working in all areas over the weekend, and crews in high risk areas were accompanied by police.

Mr Butters added: “The big story for me was that while there was a rise in incidents, there was a reduction in attacks on firefighters.

“However it is important to note this didn’t happen without some cost. Around £50,000 was spent on overtime for firefighters and around £120,000 for overtime for West Yorkshire Police, so it was at a significant expense to the taxpayer to deal with these events.”