ARSON attack rates have dropped by 80 per cent in ten years across Hampshire, according to new figures.
Fire bosses say improved conviction rates coupled with preventative measures are behind the big fall.
In the past three years alone the rate has dropped by 56 per cent, from just under five arsons per 100,000 people to just two.
A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service report states this is partly down to its “firesetter intervention programme”, which targets repeat offenders and helps them renounce their potentially lethal pastime.
It also says the fall in fire crime is thanks to the pooling of investigators’ resources after the dedicated special fire investigation team and the arson task force unit were merged.
The report said the fire service also has developed a scheme to allow stations to pinpoint local buildings at risk of arson because of combustible items dumped next door or inside.
Report author chief officer Stewart Adamson said the huge drop in deliberate firestarting was all down to the raft of preventive work.
He said: “Hampshire Fire and Rescue has earned itself an enviable position in this area. Our preventative work has seen headline figures showing reductions over ten years.”
The number of call-outs has been reducing across the board during the past decade. This includes a 47 per cent reduction in fires affecting people and property and a 41 per cent reduction in people being marooned in lifts.
But the report also finds by far the largest cause of accidental fire, resulting in 13 deaths over three years, was burning cigarettes.
The next source of accidental fire – responsible for six deaths during the same period – was unattended cooking.
In the year up to the end of 2013 there were 890 accidental fires in Hampshire homes.
The fire service has also been successful in cutting time-wasting automatic fire alarms by 68 per cent since 2005.