Feuding families whose “M.O.” involved setting vehicles alight have been blamed for a rise in fire raising attacks in Midlothian.
Incidents involving the families along with a rise in antisocial behaviour among youths in two communities saw the number of deliberate fires lit rise by nearly 80% between April and June this year.
Police and fire chiefs told a meeting of Midlothian Council’s Police, Fire and Rescue Board that there were 117 deliberate fires in the first quarter of the year, compared to 70 during the same period last year.
Police told the board: “The specific increase in recorded fire-raising offences within Midlothian is primarily attributable to two separate factors.
“The first was an ongoing dispute between families resident within Midlothian where several vehicles were deliberately set on fire.
“The second was a spate of anti-social behaviour in the Bonnyrigg and Rosewell area where youths were responsible for setting a number of small fires”
Police said specialist CID resources were investigating the feud which they added involved incidents “where the M.O. was to set fire to vehicles”.
And they said community and Midlothian Community Action Team (MCAT) officers identified and charged the youths responsible for the fires in the Bonnyrigg, Rosewell area, adding “a report was submitted to COPFS and Youth Justice partners to ensure these young persons and their families were supported fully in addressing this behaviour”.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue service said of the 117 deliberate fire incidents, 97 were “deliberate secondary fires” mainly, waste or scrubland, wood or crop; with six primary fire incidents involving trees; 19 involved refuse/bins including wheelie bins and recycling bins; five incidents involved vehicles; one incident in a private garage.
Crime in most other areas was down with police revealing a drop in reports of antisocial behaviour across the board of nearly 28% compared to the five year average and similar falls in threatening behaviour and vandalism.
They said work by the MCAT team on issues with antisocial behaviour had seen a drop in reports at areas identified as hotspots.