Slow down, where’s the fire? It might be in Westminster

Croydon’s reputation according to one of the borough’s MPs, “for rather unwelcoming 1960s architecture and for crime and anti-social behaviour”, had another negative lumped on to it yesterday, with the Evening Standard branding the borough as “London’s arson hotspot” (you can only groan at the crass inappropriateness of that pun).

This all came from a London Fire Brigade press release, with the launch of the LFB’s incident map, which is sure to be beloved of house insurance brokers across the capital.

The Croydon arson news line is a curious one to pick (BBC London also chose it as their headline stat), since the LFB’s figures pointed out that the City of Westminster is the capital’s busiest borough for its firefighters and emergency workers, with 9.024 incidents in 2010 – that’s a rate of more than one every hour, of every day, and it is unlikely that the fire engines are being called out just to rescue posh pedigree cats from the trees of Belgrave Square.

Indeed, when it comes to what the LFB describes as “high risk areas in terms of primary, or serious, fires”, Croydon (638) and Westminster (606) are both in an unwanted “Top 3”. Yet Westminster failed to get a mention at all in the Standard‘s report. We wonder why?

This, remember, is the same Evening Standard that is given away free to Zone 1 Londoners (including those in Westminster), but expects potential readers in Croydon and other outer London boroughs to pay 20p – to the annoyance of local newsagents.

Just a glance at the LFB’s large scale map shows that Croydon overall is “above average” for incidents between April 11 and May 10, while Westminster, Camden and Lambeth are all coloured red and rated as “high”.

Drill down into the details of the map, and it even shows the incident rates at ward level in Croydon in the past month are mostly below average or none at all.

Only in the central area of town, around the East and West Croydon rail stations, is there a “high” level of incidents, and these will include the whole range of call outs, including non-criminal emergencies, for instance serious road traffic accidents involving pedestrians and Trams.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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