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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
August 17, 2015

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Spate of Derelict Building Fires Raises Arson Concerns in South-West

Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer and Chairman of the National Arson Prevention Forum

Lee Howell, CFO

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has urged vigilance among the public and would-be arsonists to think twice after attending two fires at the same derelict building in matter of weeks.

Fire Crews from the service recently tackled two deliberate fires at the empty and run-down Quality Hotel in Portsmouth.

“Arson is a crime and places unnecessary risk to those involved and to firefighters who respond to deal with the impact of deliberate fire setting,” said Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer and Chairman of the National Arson Prevention Forum.

“At the same time, whilst the Fire Service is dealing with fires in unoccupied and derelict buildings, we are tying up valuable resources that may be needed at other emergencies.

“We urge anyone with information as to who may be setting these fires to call the police or crimestoppers immediately.”

Paul Bray, fire protection manager at the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said they were “asking that during the school holiday period everybody who lives, works or passes near to a derelict building becomes even more observant than normal and if anything suspicious is seen then to contact the Police.

“The fire and rescue service is encouraging parents to be aware of where their children are and what they are up to during the summer break. Derelict buildings can be seen as playgrounds and young people do not understand the danger they are putting themselves in.”

Said a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police: “If anyone sees any suspicious activity then they should call the emergency services immediately on 999. Starting fires can sometimes be seen as ‘pranks’ but they can lead to very serious consequences for any victims and offenders alike.”

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Tudor Evans said: “We are fed up with the lack of action in tackling the arrangements for securing this property from would-be arsonists. I have written to the owners demanding urgent action to put in place appropriate and effective arrangements to secure the property. I have also reminded them of their legal liability under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 for loss or injury suffered by trespassers as a result of any further incident at the site.”

Councillor Philippa Davey, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities for Plymouth City Council, said: “The owners of the hotel failed to comply with an untidy land notice which required them to remove any graffiti and repair or board over broken and missing windows, so we will now start legal proceedings to prosecute them.

“In the meantime I would urge people to stay away from the hotel. Because of fires and historic damage there is a serious health risk to people if they enter the building as they could be exposed to potentially harmful asbestos particles.”

If anyone has any information about fires no matter how big or small please telephone crimestoppers on 0800 555111 where they can give details completely anonymously.

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