North Warwickshire social deprivation linked to arson
High levels of social deprivation are being linked to a large number of arson attacks in two areas of Warwickshire, according to the county's fire service.
In a report to the county council, it says 657 deliberate fires were started in Nuneaton and Bedworth in 2011-12.
The figure accounts for over half of all arson incidents in Warwickshire.
The fire service said it was concerned by low educational attainment and high unemployment in relation to "deliberate small fires" and "dwelling fires".
Ian Tonner, an arson reduction officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, said they had been working with police since October 2007 to target areas where arson was a particular problem.
Mr Tonner said the link between deprivation and deliberate fires in parts of Nuneaton and Bedworth reflected national trends.Not offering excuses
He said they were talking to children and people in the worst affected areas and added the report was not about offering an excuse for arson attacks.
Mr Tonner said: "In no way are we giving anybody a green light to set a fire deliberately.
"What we're saying is: 'These are the boundaries, if you cross them we will involve the police and you'll be prosecuted'."
The report added that there had been an increase of 160 fires (14.6%) across the whole of the county during 2011-12 compared with the previous year, although figures so far this year suggest a reduction.