Crime figures show dramatic rise in Doncaster arson attacks

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A dramatic rise in arson attacks has hit Doncaster in the last 12 months, new crime figures have shown.

There were 938 reported incidents of deliberate fires in 2015 compared to 760 in 2014 – a 19 per cent increase.

Bill Hotchkiss, head of service community safety at Doncaster Council, said the trend was on the up after years of decline.

He said: “Over the last few years there has been a decrease in arson but, for reasons unknown, it has picked up again.

“We’re working closely with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and they are looking int this.

“With this sudden rise you need to look at the source and tackle the issue head on.

“I must stress that this is not just Doncaster but across South Yorkshire as a whole.”

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said the figures were worrying but added fire-related crimes in Doncaster are down nearly 50 per cent in the last ten years.

Primary arson – a more serious crime affecting homes, cars and businesses – is up 36 per cent.

Secondary arson – such as wheelie bin blazes and grass fires – has risen by 20 per cent.

The newly published figures were scrutinised by Doncaster councillors yesterday.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “Deliberate fires have halved in Doncaster over the last ten years, but our work to reduce arson continues.

“This includes our education work in schools, putting on diversionary activities for young people and working with our partners at the police to reduce anti-social behaviour. Starting fires is reckless and costs lives. Even small fires like bin and grass fires can quickly spread, putting people and property at risk. In recent, high-profile, national cases, arson attacks on homes have resulted in murder convictions and substantial prison sentences.

“The maximum sentence for arson is life in prison and we’d encourage members of the public who know of people starting fires in their area to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

A community and environment overview scrutiny meeting also heard about a spate of lorry robberies in the run up to Christmas last year.

Robbery in the town has jumped by 23 per cent from 2014 and Mr Hotchkiss stated that the lorries being targeted in November and December was a reason for the jump.

Overall, crime in Doncaster is up by seven per cent.

In 2015, there were 25,143 incidents reported to police. This was up on 2014 where 23,438 reports were called in.

Doncaster is slightly ahead of the trend in South Yorkshire. Crime in the region is up six per cent on 2014, with 98,945 reported crimes.

There were notable decreases in reports of child sexual exploitation – the figure was down 51 per cent from 2014.

Metal theft in Doncaster was also down 44 per cent. There were 268 reports to police in 2015.