Sharp rise in arson attacks in Oxfordshire, figures show

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Fire services in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire saw an increase in the number of arson attacks on homes last year, figures from the Home Office show.

In the 12 months to September, 2017, the most recent data available, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 29 deliberately started house fires, 38 per cent more than the previous year, out of a total of 279 fires.

While Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 18 arson attacks, 20 per cent more than the previous year – in total, they attended 156 house fires.

In contrast, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service saw a small decrease in the number of fires they attended last year.

The Northants firefighters attended a total 402 house fires, a drop of six per cent on the previous year, including 40 cases of arson.

Dave Green, national officer at the Fire Brigades Union, said: “Starting fires deliberately in the home is a heinous crime. Rightfully, it is a serious criminal offence punishable by law.

“Arsonists do not just put the immediate victims at risk; they put whole communities and firefighters themselves in jeopardy.

“The fire and rescue service is already stretched to the limit in the fire cover they can provide.

“If firefighters are dealing with an arson at the same time as another fire call comes in, then those other victims are looking at a long wait before we can get to them.”

Also revealed in the statistics, in Oxfordshire, 20 people lost their lives in incidents attended by fire services over the last five years, with four fatalities in the last 12 months.

There were also 47 casualties, including 23 people who were taken to hospital as a result of their injuries.

Since 2013 in Warwickshire, two people have been killed in arson attacks, and 13 people lost their lives in incidents attended by fire services over the last five years.

In the last year alone, eight died, the highest recorded level for five years.

There were also 34 casualties, including 22 people who were taken to hospital as a result of their injuries.

And in Northamptonshire since 2013, four people died in deliberately-started fires.

In total, 12 people lost their lives in incidents attended by fire services over the last five years and in the last year, eight died, the highest recorded level for five years.

There were also 60 casualties, including 41 people who were taken to hospital as a result of their injuries.

Across England, 346 people lost their lives in fires between October 2016 and September 2017, including 47 in deliberately started fires.

The Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington in June, 2017, which claimed 71 lives, meant the figure was the highest for any 12-month period since the data was first recorded in 2009.

There were more than 30,000 house fires across the country over the year, over 3,000 of which were started deliberately.