Prisons: Fires

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many fires occurred in prisons in each of the last three years.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prisoners have been charged with arson following the setting of fires in prisons in each of the last three years.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prosecutions there have been for arson following the setting of fires in prisons in each of the last three years.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We will never compromise on the safety of those in our care, and staff are trained to respond to emergency situations in a timely, appropriate manner. The Government is taking unprecedented action to improve safety in custody. This includes investing in over 4,300 additional staff since October 2015 and investing an extra £70 million to improve safety, security and decency.

The table below provides the numbers of all fires in prison over the last 3 years. It shows a fall in the number of fires in 2018, which coincides with the implementation of smoke free prisons, a reduction in the prison population and our actions to improve safety in custody.

The definition of fire incidents is not reserved for deliberate acts of arson; it also covers a wide range of circumstances including accidental fires. Although the Fire Service routinely attend fire incidents in prisons, the majority are relatively minor in their nature.

Year

Number of fires

Reduction as a percentage of previous year’s total

2016

2,314

N/A

2017

2,287

1.2%

2018

1,517

50.1%

We do not hold the number of prisoners charged and prosecuted for arson centrally and this information could only be obtained at disproportionate costs.

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