Fire service warns of school arson risk at Easter

The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is asking parents and residents to help prevent schools becoming a target for arsonists over the summer holidays. Every year hundreds of schools across the two counties face the increased risk of both arson

The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is asking parents and residents to help prevent schools becoming a target for arsonists over the summer holidays. Every year hundreds of schools across the two counties face the increased risk of both arson and vandalism during holiday periods, with unoccupied buildings proving vulnerable to bored youngsters. On average three schools a day are targeted by arsonists nationwide, with 75 per cent of all school fires being arson. A quarter of all major building fires occur in schools, but only one third occur during school hours. Arson reduction manager Keith Pascoe said: "In recent years the good work of teachers and governors has gone a long way to ensuring that schools in both Devon and Somerset are safe from the threat of arson, but we must not become complacent - by removing the target you remove the threat. "We also ask that parents are more aware of where their children are and what they are up to. Arson attacks on schools not only have financial implications on us all, in the way of increased taxes, but also lead to severe disruption to a child's education if the school is closed." A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "If anyone sees any suspicious activity then they should call the emergency services immediately on 999. Starting fires can sometimes be seen as 'pranks' but they can lead to very serious consequences for any victims and offenders alike. Anyone with any information on those being involved in such activity is urged to call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111." Measures that have been highlighted to reduce such attacks are: * Ensuring perimeter fencing is adequately maintained.* The use of boundary signs to deter intruders.* Ensuring that all windows and doors are securely closed.* Any stores in and around the school are kept locked.* Any waste or rubbish is well managed and stored securely away from main buildings.* Any waste or wheelie bins are locked shut.* Ensure regular school site checks are completed. The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is asking that during the school holiday period everybody who lives, works or passes near to a school, becomes even more observant than normal and if anything suspicious is seen then to contact the Police. If anyone has any information about fires no matter how big or small in their local area they should telephone CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555111 where they can give details completely anonymously.


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