DORSET Police are calling on volunteers to join a Heath Watch group to help prevent fire damage to heathland.

The force has launched the new scheme with the Urban Heaths Partnership to protect Dorset’s heath areas from antisocial behaviour, theft and fire damage.

Sgt Adrian Thompson said: “We would like to build up a network of Heath Watch groups across the county and encourage local residents to become our eyes and ears and report any fires or antisocial behaviour they might see.”

Paul Attwell, Urban Heaths Partnership team manager, said: “We will give training to volunteers, providing information on the best way to report what they see and the information the emergency services need to enable them to respond to incidents as quickly as possible.”

This year marks the 15th successive Operation Heathland, which runs from March 31 to September 28. Last year’s initiative saw the number of heath fires fall from 163 in 2011 to 111 in 2013.

The total amount of heathland damaged by fire was significantly reduced.

To find out more about joining Heath Watch, call 01202 642787.