London Fire Brigade

Deliberate fires dramatically decrease over the last decade

17 September 2012

Deliberate fires across the capital have dropped by four-fifths over the last decade, according to new figures released today by London Fire Brigade.

Last year the number of deliberate fires in London was 6,950 or around 133 each week. In 2001/2 crews were attending, on average, 657 deliberate fires a week. 

Despite the overall downward trend deliberate fires have increased by three per cent since 2009/10. The Brigade believes some of this increase may be due to last summer’s riots. Firefighters attended at least 807 fires between Saturday 6 August and Wednesday 10 August, 2011.

Fire chiefs are urging people to report any abandoned vehicles or rubbish to their local councils and not to store a large amount of combustible materials against their property.

The figures show that:

              • In 2001/2 there were 34,185 deliberate fires– over 650 blazes every week
              • Deliberate fires hit their lowest level in 2009/10 with 6,687
              • Hackney has seen the biggest single decrease, with 90 per cent fewer deliberate fires than 10 years ago.

A number of schemes have been set up by the Brigade to reduce deliberate fires. Firefighters work closely with the Brigade’s Arson Task Force and local authorities to remove abandoned vehicles and fly tipping from the streets.

The Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Team (JFIS), which works with young people who show firesetting behaviour and London’s fire investigators work with the police to identify arson and bring arsonists to court.

The sharp decline in deliberate fires can be partly attributed to the increasing scrap value of motor vehicles making it less likely that they will be abandoned and therefore subject to arson. In August 2001 old steel scrap was £35 per tonne. Ten years later old steel scrap was more than five times more expensive at £185 per tonne. The UK scrap industry is worth around £5bn a year.

James Cleverly, Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said:

“The dramatic decrease in deliberate fires means Londoners are a great deal safer from these needless acts of destruction than they were 10 years ago. The London Fire Brigade has worked incredibly hard with its partners, the Police and local councils, to bring these figures down and make the capital safer.

“The slight increase in deliberate fires over the last two years shows that we cannot be complacent. If people see an abandoned vehicle or rubbish dumped in the street, they should contact their local council, which will help get it removed so it cannot become a target for would be arsonists.”