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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total cost was of damage to school premises from malicious fires in each year since 1997 (a) in England and (b) by LEA. [119433]

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what targets his Department has set in relation to malicious fires on school premises. [119436]

The Department does not set targets for malicious fires, but we take very seriously the threat that arson poses to some schools. If a fire should happen in a school, the Department's primary concern is for the safety of pupils, teachers and other users. Regulation 17 of the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 requires that every part of a school building, and of the land provided for a school, shall be such that the safe escape of the occupants in case of fire is reasonably assured. Schools are also covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and by subsequent related regulations. These include aspects of fire safety.To help schools manage fire safety, The Department published Managing School Facilities Guide 6, Fire Safety, in 2000. This offers guidance on how to minimise the risks of both accidental and malicious fires occurring, and advises on how to identify hazards and carry out risk assessments. It also gives advice on training and on fire detection and alarm systems.In addition, officials from the Department sit on the Arson in Schools Working Group, a group of experts representing the insurance industry, the fire and police services, local authorities and government departments. The Group exists to research and promote ways of reducing malicious fires in schools. One of its outputs

Private sector partnersOpening datesNumber of pupils and age rangeCapital costs from the public purse (£million)Revenue Funding 2003–04 (£ thousand)
BarnetPeter Shalson20041,425 11–18221 900
BexleySir David Garrard20021,400 11–1825.754,232,598
BradfordTo he confirmed20052,000 11–182 19.51 250
BrentSir Frank Lowe John Laycock, University of the20031,200 11–1821.44,419,823
BristolWest of England and others Lord Harris of Peckham and the20031,236 11–1821.875,437,152
CroydonWhitgift Foundation2005/061,300 11–1817.871 250

has been the publication of the guide "How to Combat Arson in Schools", copies of which have been sent to all schools in the UK.