Tasmania tops national arson structure stats

TASMANIA has a higher proportion of structure fire arsons compared with the rest of Australia, the Report on Government Services 2014 shows.

The state had the highest percentage nationally in three of the past four years, according to data collated by the Productivity Commission.

While the reason for this is unclear, police have reassured the community that arson offences are taken seriously and criminal investigators statewide work with other agencies to investigate and prevent arson.

Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams said information from the community was vital in solving arson.

"We continue to operate the ICARUS Taskforce, which collates, analyses and investigates offences, with priority given to investigating Housing Tasmania fires in the Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Clarendon Vale areas," she said.

A reward of up to $10,000 is available via Crime Stoppers, for information leading to the conviction of arsonists in relation to Housing Tasmania properties.

The report also showed that Tasmania had the second highest number of fire incidents per 100,000 people in 2012-13, 804 incidents, and the most accidental residential structure fires per 100,000 households in 2012-13, 145.9.

However, Tasmania Fire Service community fire safety director Damien Killalea said the figures were not directly comparable with mainland states, because of different reporting requirements.

"In Tasmania, we administer all brigades and we get about 98 per cent of incidents reported to us, by the time the data has to be provided to the Productivity Commission," he said.

"By contrast, some fire services in some states don't administer all brigades in their states and not all of their brigades are required to report fires."

Mr Killalea said there was a high number of residential fires in Tasmania because of three unique factors: the cooler climate, a higher proportion of people over the age of 65, and a higher proportion of people on low incomes.

"But having said that, in the last 15 years in Tasmania, we have cut the average house fire rate in half," he said.

"Notwithstanding that we lost 200-odd houses in the Dunalley fires."

Police urge anyone who sees suspicious activity to call the police helpline on 131 444, while people who have information about an arson crime should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


Tasmania Police arson statistics: July to December 2013: 45.

2012-13: 100.

2011-12: 83.

2010-11: 111.

2009-10: 93.

Report on Government Services 2014 - percentage of deliberately lit Tasmanian structure fires:

2012-13: 22.8 per cent (highest nationally).

2011-12: 21.4 per cent (second highest).

2010-11: 23.7 per cent (highest nationally).

2009-10: 23.6 per cent (highest nationally).


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