THE number of arson incidents spiked across Berkshire in April according to the fire service, which recorded 134 fires started deliberately from April to June. 

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) splits fires between primary and secondary. Primary fires damage people or property, while secondary fires are often in derelict properties and vehicles. 

The number of deliberate primary fires increased in April to June, ‘with an initial spike in April’, according to a performance report to the fire authority. 

RBFRS recorded 22 deliberate primary fires in April, which is more than double the same month last year. However the figures in May and June were similar to that of last year. 

The report stated: “However, there are no identifiable trends and the incidents are spread across the county, suggesting that there is no localised spate activity.”

The number of deliberate fires is relatively low compared to the overall incidents RBFRS responds to. Compared to other fire services of a similar size and type, RBFRS has ‘demonstrably fewer deliberate primary fires’, and deliberate secondary fires. 

The fire service works with Thames Valley Police to look for trends and how to work together to prosecute those who commit arson. 

RBFRS’s safety education team works with children ‘identified as demonstrating fire setting behaviours’. From April to June, the team worked with seven children.

“Through a programme of interventions our trained staff are able to alter this negative behaviour. As well as continuing this important work the team are now looking at targeted work with adult fire-setters.”

There were 50 deliberate primary fires between April to June; and 40 in the same period last year. Of these 50, there were: 

  • Nine in Slough
  • Four in Windsor and Maidenhead
  • 12 in Reading
  • 11 in West Berkshire
  • Seven in Wokingham, and
  • Seven in Bracknell.

‘Arson Aware’ boards have been put up in hot spots, warning of the danger of starting fires deliberately. The boards have the Crimestoppers number so that members of the community can anonymously provide information to the police.