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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
School arson bill hits 97m
Fewer fires are started out of school hours
The annual cost of arson in schools has hit a record high of 96.6m.

That is a doubling in costs over a decade.

An average of three fires are started in UK schools every day - three quarters deliberately.

Now insurers are using drama in an attempt to persuade children that starting fires is a bad idea.

The new scheme will run in schools in Scotland, the north of England, the Midlands and Yorkshire.

Scotland and the north of England are worst affected by the problem.

The project is being set up by the Arson Prevention Bureau, which is part of Zurich Municipal, the public service insurers.

Children will watch a play about fires being started at a school and will then take part in drama workshops dealing with issues such as arson and peer pressure.

Malicious

Head of the Arson Prevention Bureau, Jane Milne, said getting pupils to discuss the consequences of fire-raising was "a positive step".

In the past, arson prevention policies have been directed at physically protecting schools through better security.

Jane Milne said: "Malicious fire-setting is a major problem for schools, and its impact cannot be underestimated.

"The key to tackling the problem lies in the multi-agency approach, through raising awareness of the issue and developing best practice guidelines."

Zurich Municipal, which is also sponsoring the tour, said the number of large fires at schools - those costing 100,000 or more - were increasing rapidly.

Generally, most fires are smaller scale.

The number of fires started outside of school hours has been falling since 1994, but in recent years there has been an increase in those started during the school day.

May is the most common month for malicious fires.

The insurers say this could be because of the pressure of exams and the milder weather bringing more children outside.

There is also an increase in attacks at the end of the summer holidays.


SEE ALSO:
Stamping out school arson
23 Jul 03  |  Education
Fire safety talks for schools
10 Jul 03  |  Staffordshire
Soaring cost of school arson
23 Jun 00  |  Education
Arson attacks 'on the increase'
27 Feb 03  |  England


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