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ARSON ATTACKS ON SCOTLAND'S SCHOOLS STILL ON THE INCREASE

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Arson attacks on Scottish schools are still on the increase according to new statistics, with an estimated 84% of a...
Arson attacks on Scottish schools are still on the increase according to new statistics, with an estimated 84% of all school fires in the country caused by arsonists.

These statistics were discussed at a national public sector risk management conference last week, organised by the Scottish region of ALARM - The National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector.

ALARM deal with a growing number of risk management issues faced by public sector organisations and institutions such as schools, and with more schools burnt down than any other type of building occupancy the problem of arson is now clearly spiralling out of control.

Scotland's 32 local education authority's represent around 5% of those within the whole of the UK, and estimates show that Scotland's schools are currently accounting for almost 35% of all school fire losses from all causes.

When considering the size of the country compared to the rest of the UK and Ireland this proves that arson in Scotland is a massive problem, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the UK.

Graeme Mackenzie, chairperson of ALARM Scotland said: 'The growing number of arson attacks on Scotland's schools gives significant cause for concern to local authority education managers and risk managers.

'Reinstating a burnt down secondary school costs local authorities and their insurer millions of pounds. Even with 'full' insurance coverage local authorities are taking, or are having to take, financial responsibility for such losses by way of increased excesses.

Whilst insurance will pay for the replacement of a lost building and its contents there are significant additional 'costs' which are not capable of being recovered. These can include loss of teaching time, loss of school spirit, relocation of schoolchildren amongst different local secondaries and loss of the building as a central part of the local community it serves.

'Whilst there is not a history of loss of life involved in school arson attacks, loca l government should not be complacent against guarding against the possibility of such tragedy befalling pupils, staff or our magnificent fire authorities who have to tackle the consequences of arson attacks in schools.'

ALARM chief executive Sheila Boyce said: 'The growing trend in school arson is frightening, and with more and more of the perpetrators being of school age themselves we need to be asking why they are doing it.

'A worrying trend is that more fires are being set during school hours. We need to get the message across clearly that it is extremely dangerous and is putting children's live increasingly lives at risk.'

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