Fires started in abandoned and stolen vehicles have fallen by as much as 90% during the last decade – partly because of a sharp rise in the value of scrap metal during that period, says the London Fire Brigade.
Figures published by the brigade show the number of deliberate fires in London was 4,213 – equivalent to around 81 each week in 2012/13. In 2003/4 crews were attending, on average, 644 deliberate fires a week or 92 fires a day.
London Fire Brigade estimates this is in part because of the increase in the value of scrap which has gone up by around £120 per tonne since a decade ago.
European Union (EU) legislation has also brought about a reduction in the number of old cars dumped on London’s streets. The EU End of Life Directive which came into force in 2005 tasked car manufacturers to set up agencies to recycle cars for free when they came to the end of their driving life. The brigade has also carried out a number of initiatives aimed at curbing car fires during that time.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, said: “During the last decade the brigade has worked extremely hard alongside its partners in the police and local councils to make it more difficult than ever for mindless vandals to endanger the lives of Londoners by setting fire to rubbish and vehicles left in our streets.
“We cannot be complacent though and I would urge anyone who sees an abandoned vehicle or dumped rubbish to report it to their local council, which will help get it removed so it cannot become a target for would-be arsonists.”
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has seen the biggest decrease, with 94% fewer deliberate fires than 10 years ago.
Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: “I am very pleased there has been such a big decrease in deliberate fires in the borough. Our twice weekly domestic rubbish collections and regular street cleaning helps remove the materials that people can use to start fires, as does the work our officers do in spotting potential problems and reporting them.”