Arson has been a blight on local communities for some considerable time, having in the main an economic loss to people, businesses, communities and Local Authorities. Aside to this, the demands on some Fire & Rescue Service’s (FRSs) from arson and deliberate fires far outweighs that of other incident types; resulting in resources being diverted away from life risk incidents and preventive activities.

Demand on FRS’s from arson differs across the UK. Since 2011/12 arson has reduced by 30% (England, Wales and Scotland) however, since 2014/15 there has been an upward trend with arson increasing by 15%.

Arson accounted for 50.5% of all fires attended in 2017/18 by Fire & Rescue Services in the whole of the United Kingdom (213,782 fires attended; 108,024 deliberate).  This is the largest, single cause of fire attended by FRSs:

  • England; 48%. 167,291 fires attended, 80,610 deliberate
  • Scotland; 57% 26,115 fires attended, 14,828 deliberate
  • Wales; 58%. 11,020 fires attended, 6,371 deliberate
  • Northern Ireland: 66%. 9,356 fires attended, 6,215 deliberate

The Arson Prevention Forum use the 2008 Department for Communities and Local Government calculation for economic cost and apply a 2.6% annual increase to indicate current position. The reported cost of fire insurance claims was £1.2bn. The estimated economic cost attributed to arson from statistics in 2017-18 was £1.49bn.

We have long recognised that not all fires are reported.  Historic Home Office Crime Surveys estimated that FRS’s were only notified of between 13% - 26% of all fires, indicating that this economic loss could be greatly under estimated.

Scaling this up, the potential economic cost attributed to arson in the UK for 2017-18, is more likely to be between £5.73bn and £11.46bn.

NFCC has produced its first National Arson Reduction Strategy, developed to assist Fire & Rescue Services; the overall aim being to ‘reduce the incidence of Deliberate Fires and their consequential impacts including personal and economic loss; contributing to community empowerment and economic growth’.

For some significant time now, the more affected FRSs have been proactive in developing and implementing local solutions through Collaboration, Partnership working and standalone Fire Service initiatives. It is through these approaches that the strategy seeks to build upon in order to reduce the incidence of arson on a national perspective and to achieve the desired outcomes of creating Safer Homes for people to live, Safer Businesses and Buildings for people to work and prosper, and Safer Neighbourhoods for people to enjoy and visit.

We look forward to moving forward as a nation, reducing the impact of arson on communities, assisting community growth and cohesion.

April 2019