TOUGH SENTENCING: Antoine caught deliberately lighting a bushfire in NSW will face harsh penalties including longer jail time.
TOUGH SENTENCING: Antoine caught deliberately lighting a bushfire in NSW will face harsh penalties including longer jail time. AlexVan

CRACKDOWN: Bigger penalties to squash fire bugs

DELIBERATELY starting a bush fire in New South Wales will cop you up to 21 years in prison - with a standard non-parole sentence of nine years.

On Wednesday it was revealed in a further crackdown on dangerous bushfire bugs, the standard non-parole period for convicted arsonists is set to increase from five years to nine years to help protect lives and property.

With dozens of bushfires currently burning around the state, it's a decision which has been welcome by those who are on the front-line of dealing with these devastating events.

Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service, Superintendent Boyd Townsend, said he fully supported this move.

"Increasing of penalties for people who deliberately light fires to burn the land of others and do damage is definitely a good thing,” he said.

"I hope this will discourage anyone from undertaking this activity.”

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman and Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the Government would introduce an amendment to implement the recommendation of the Sentencing Council to help ensure those who commit bushfire offences spend more time behind bars.

NSW Rural Fire Service Acting Commissioner Rob Rogers welcomed the latest reforms and called on the community to report suspicious behaviour.

"NSW firefighters already have a difficult and dangerous job responding to emergencies and keeping the community safe, let alone having to put their lives on the line because some reckless person deliberately started a fire,” he said.

"The prolonged drought means there is an increased risk of fires. It is important people remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour so offenders are caught.”

As part of its review, the Sentencing Council received submissions from stakeholders including the Law Society of NSW, Legal Aid NSW, NSW Police Force, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the RFS Association.



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