Huge Rise In Arson In Kirklees

Incidents are up 22% in the year to March 2019.

Concerns have been raised about the huge rise in arson incidents in Kirklees over the past year.

New figures show that between April 2018 and March 2019 there were 1,199 arson incidents in Kirklees – up from 982 the previous year.

Fire bosses have told Councillors they are meeting with local police and Kirklees Council to try to halt the worrying rise.

The issue was discussed by members of West Yorkshire Fire Authority’s Community Safety Committee at a meeting on Friday.

A report detailing the performance of the fire service over the past year included a breakdown by incidents and by districts.

It showed that across West Yorkshire the number of arson incidents rose from 6,714 to 7,753. It meant the service missed its “targets” for arson by 21.7 per cent.

In Bradford the number of arsons rose from 2,143 to 2,567 – missing targets by 29.8 per cent.

In Calderdale the number of arsons rose from 368 to 446, beating the service’s “target” figure by 1.3 per cent.

In Leeds arson figures rose from 2,248 to 2,360 missing its target by 10.2 per cent.

In Wakefield arson figures rose from 973 to 1,163, missing its target by 30.8 per cent.

But Kirklees saw the most dramatic rise in arson – with the annual target being missed by over a third – 34 percent.

A report to the committee said many of the arson incidents were “secondary arson” – open grassland or litter being set on fire.

It adds: “The rise in this area also incorporated fires outdoors that could be attributed to fly-tipping or inappropriately discarded waste which is recognised as a rising issue within Kirklees.”

Bradford Councillor Mike Pollard said: “I do realise there were the moor fires, but I don’t think this could have skewed the figures to such a huge extent. What is going on in Kirklees?”

Kirklees District Commander Toby May said there had been an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area, and that he had been in discussions with Kirklees Council about the issue. He added: “It can be linked to a rise in anti social behaviour and fly tipping. Arson isn’t just someone setting fire to someone else’s property. There are societal issues and links with crime and anti social behaviour. There is an awful lot of work we are doing and we’re meeting with the Council and this is one of the main things on our agenda.”

He said they had also recently met with the chief superintendent of the local policing team about working closer together.

The service has reviewed the rise in arsons in the area, and the results of that review would likely be presented at a future meeting.

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