Deliberate fire figures down by 72 per cent

A FIRE chief warned there is “no room for complacency” despite a significant fall in the number of deliberate fires in Worthing and Adur.

Statistics released by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for April and May this year show a total of 23 deliberate fires recorded, down 72 per cent from the same period in 2011.

Pleasing figures were also recorded last year, with a total of 33 fires reported.

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Mr Barraclough said the decline was encouraging, but the job was not done yet.

He said: “There is no room for complacency and although I never am, I am pleased that the joined up work we do working with the Adur and Worthing Safer Communities Partnership has contributed to the decrease.

“Police have also arrested a couple of people in connection with the fires, which is another reason for the numbers going down.”

A total of nine fires were recorded in central ward in Worthing, far higher than any other ward.

Afternoons, between the hours of noon and 6pm, were when 65 per cent of the fires occurred.

Mr Barraclough was not surprised by either figure.

He said: “Central ward had the most but this is to be expected because of the number of people moving through the area.

“People may be surprised that the afternoon is more popular than the evening but I think if schools operated until 6pm, you may see a different picture.”

Mr Barraclough stressed that the figures were as accurate as possible, but it was sometimes difficult to establish whether a fire was deliberate or accidental.

He said: “If you have a bin fire, for example, it can be hard to determine whether it has started by a cigarette butt by mistake, or on purpose.

“Of course, if you have a few in a short space of time, it raises your suspicion.”

Bin fires were featured on the front page of The Herald last week, as Sean Boscott, of Bedford Row, in the town centre, captured footage of one in nearby Marine Place.

A spate of fires in recent years had contributed to his road being left “like a war zone”.

In April and May, refuse bins were highlighted as the most common source of deliberate fires, with five reported.

Mr Barraclough, again, urged business owners who use wheelie bins to lock them at all times, in order to reduce the risk.

He said: “Even a small fire has the potential to turn into something much bigger.”