Number of deliberate fires across Aberdeen up by 17%

The Gramps nature reserve which has been repeatedly targeted
The Gramps nature reserve which has been repeatedly targeted

The number of deliberate fires across the city rose by 17% due to an increase in antisocial behaviour, a new report has claimed.

A total of 370 deliberate fires were recorded between April to December 2018, up from 315 in the same period in 2017.

A report by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said the surge in incidents represent a “continual upward trend” as the four-year average was 321.

Fire engines at the scene of a fire at the Gramps

It added that the peak period for deliberate fire-setting was September and links the rise to an increase in antisocial behaviour from fire-setting in The Gramps.

The report, which will be considered by members of Aberdeen City Council’s public protection committee on Wednesday, said: “As the committee is aware a significant amount of deliberate fires were recently set on the area known as The Gramps, this is reflected in the increased figures.

“We worked closely with our partners, specifically Police Scotland and Aberdeen City Council in order to reduce deliberate fire-setting across Aberdeen city, this partnership approach has seen a number of individuals arrested and subsequently charged with wilful fire raising.”

The SFRS’s community action team has also delivered school presentations where the opportunity was taken to highlight the dangers from fire-setting to both secondary and primary school children.

On November 5, Police Scotland and Aberdeen City Council increased joint visible patrols around the city to remove combustible materials and discourage antisocial behaviour.

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The report said this approach has since led to a 43% reduction in the number of deliberate fires set against the same period last year.

During September, The Gramps nature reserve on Kincorth Hill was repeatedly targeted with crews called out on 30 occasions in a 13-day spell.

Councillor Martin Greig, who sits on the committee, said the amount of damage caused by these incidents is “considerable” and places pressure on the fire service.

Meanwhile, the figures also show there were 189 accidental house fires between April and December 2018, up from 180 in the same period in 2017, although down on the four-year average of 210 incidents.

The report identifies the root cause for these incidents as food ignited via cooking appliances.

It states these are mainly caused by adults in the 18-64 age range who most commonly are distracted due to drugs and alcohol.