MORE than two in five public buildings inspected in Hampshire last year were found in breach of fire safety regulations.

Home Office data shows 234 properties inspected in the year to March did not comply with fire safety laws – 44 per cent of those inspected.

They included 66 blocks of flats, 34 shops and 30 other forms of sleeping accommodation.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire Service issued 12 formal notifications, including eight enforcement notices, two prohibition notices and two prosecutions.

“The fall out from the Grenfell disaster has highlighted dangerous buildings right across the country," said Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen.

"It is therefore no surprise that publicly owned buildings would be amongst those deemed unsafe. As with all other buildings with fire safety defects these buildings will have to be made safe too."

Specific data for Southampton is not available on the Home Office website.

Group manager for protection delivery at the county's fire service, Andy Lock, said more and more businesses are working to improve fire safety.

"In addition to education, fire safety audits are designed to make sure that adequate fire risk assessments and precautions are in place in order to keep everyone safe," he said.

"We will always work with businesses by providing advice and support in relation to fire safety matters, so that improvements can be identified and made."

Fire services conduct audits on most public buildings and the shared areas of residential properties such as flats to make sure they meet safety regulations.

Across England, 34,400 fire safety audits were carried out in 2020-21 – 29 per cent fewer than the previous year.

In Hampshire the number of audits dropped by 673 to 530 in the period.

Matt Wrack, the FBU's general secretary, said: "It is understandable that audit figures have dipped during the pandemic, given the reduction in non-emergency contact with the public.

"Any shortfall in inspections needs to be made up, however.

"This may be difficult, though, with steep falls in the number of fire inspectors in recent years.

“This fall in inspectors is also concerning due to the building safety issues that have come to light since Grenfell and the increased number of buildings fire inspectors are responsible for."