Arson Prevention Forum

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Extent Of The Problem

Impact of arson

Arson attacks on schools continue to exact a huge cost through damage and disruption to lives and education. The latest annual statistics show that arson accounts for 45% of all fires in schools, but for major school fires this rises to 80%. Arson endangers lives, disrupts and distresses staff, pupils and parents, and takes up emergency services resources. School fires cost over £80million in insured damages each year.

Fires during school-time

A third of all school arson fires occur when pupils are in schools and this proportion appears to be rising. This is coupled with schools being more commonly used outside of normal hours as resources for adult education, sports facilities and meeting venues. 

In 2002 the APB report Education Under Threat  explored in greater detail the rise of daytime school arson. 59% of daytime arson in schools started in the cloakroom, compared with only 5% of accidental fires. Arson attacks during the day are most likely to be started between 1pm-2pm, i.e. towards the end of the lunchtime break

Number of pupils affected

Around 90,000 pupils are estimated to have their education disrupted in some way by school arson each year. Destroyed coursework and teaching aids, loss of classrooms or other facilities, transfer to a different class or school temporarily, or destruction of property all take their toll. 

The loss of coursework, especially in the weeks preceding exams, can cause considerable mental stress in children, potentially resulting in reduced exam performance and stress-related disorders such as depression (high rates of which already exist among teenagers). Younger children can lose their sense of safety in school buildings following a fire.