Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, this week pointed to new figures published by the Government which show the problems of arson and abandoned cars are getting worse. Official fire statistics show that since 1997, the number of cases of arson have soared by 48 per cent across Hertfordshire and the number of ‘malicious vehicle fires’ – a key indicator of burnt out, abandoned cars – has soared by 103 per cent. The Government has a target to reduce arson by 30 per cent – which it is failing to meet.

    Peter Lilley said: “This is yet another area where Labour have failed to deliver on their promises. It is not just violent crime that is a cause for concern, but now our streets are getting dirtier and more dangerous. New figures suggest that there has been an increase of 103 per cent in the number of burnt out cars littering Hertfordshire’s road. Abandoned cars are hazardous for children and encourage more vandalism and crime in our neighbourhoods.

    “Like violent crime, arson is also out of control. Arson has soared by 48 per cent since 1997, in the face of Labour’s pledge to cut it by a third. Such crimes can destroy local communities, especially since schools are often a prime target.

    “Yet the problem of abandoned cars will get even worse. European Union directives signed by Labour are forcing the cost of car disposal to soar – a bill which is going to be met by car owners and council tax payers. Badly drafted regulations supposed to help the environment will end up accelerating urban decay. Conservatives believe the whole problem of crime across Hertfordshire must be addressed – from getting more police officers on the streets to tackling smaller scale, quality of life nuisances.”


    Notes to Editors

    The Government has a target to cut the number of deliberate fires by 30 per cent (HC Debs, col.98W, 4 March 2002). Yet new fire statistics, published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 20 May 2003, show that cases of arson (?malicious fires?) have soared by 50 per cent across the country since 1997. In addition, the number of ?malicious vehicle fires? have risen by 92 per cent – this is a key indicator of the rise in the number burnt out, abandoned cars now littering communities.

    Press release: http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2003_0092
    Data: http://www.safety.odpm.gov.uk/fire/rds/monitor/q2-2002/index.htm (Table 5a + 5b)

    Abandoned Cars Problem

    The Institute for European Environmental Policy published a report into the new EU End of Life Vehicles Directive in January 2003 (http://www.ieep.org.uk/). They estimated 250,000 more cars will be dumped each year. The Directive is forcing the cost of disposing cars to soar. The value of scrap metal has plummeted, meaning owners have to pay scrap merchants to take their cars off them and be dismantled. The report warns, “this situation has already lead to a substantial upsurge in the number of abandoned cars and the imposition of an extra charge to implement the requirements of the ELV directive will perhaps triple the charge for disposal, pushing it up towards ?100 in some areas.”

    The report attacked the Government?s lack of action – “the Government has concluded from this that the do-nothing option (i.e. making last owners pay for disposal) remains the cheapest thing to do” and warned, “if the number of abandonments rises sharply, it will be local government and hence ultimately the Treasury, which has to face the treatment costs… it will be the taxpayer who ultimately foots the bill.”