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Crime: Arson

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many incidents of criminal arson have been recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the south Belfast area in the past three years; what arrangements exist between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the fire service to ensure all arson incidents attended by the fire service are reported to the police; how many individuals have been charged in relation to those acts of arson; and what profiling is carried out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland on patterns of arson in south Belfast. [HL4092]

The chief constable has provided the following Answer.

The following table details the number of incidents of arson recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the south Belfast area in the past three years. The table also shows the number of offences cleared by means of a charge or summons; it is not possible to disaggregate this statistic to show charge only.


Number cleared by means of charge/summons










Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service reports all primary fires and certain categories of secondary fires to the police. The incident is then investigated by the PSNI which determine whether or not the fire was the result of an arson attack.

The definitions of those fires reported to police are detailed below:

Primary Fires

buildings including mobile homes fit for occupation;


vehicles and other methods of transport;

outdoor storage, plant and machinery;

agricultural and forestry premises and property; and

other outdoor structures including post-boxes, tunnels, bridges etc.

Secondary Fires

if they involve casualties, rescues or escapes;

if they spread from one secondary fire location to another; and

if they are attended by five or more appliances at a location where either firefighters, appliances or equipment arrived at the fire ground and were employed in fighting the fire. Appliances are to be counted as having been used in fighting the fire if they themselves, equipment from them or persons riding on them, were employed to fight the fire.

There have been no profiles produced in the past year on patterns of criminal arson.