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Barking and Dagenham was plagued by an arson attack almost every day over the last financial year, figures reveal.

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The London Fire Brigade said there had been 289 deliberate fires in the east London borough, nearly six each week, in 2011/12.

But the statistics show they had dropped six-fold in the last decade after the value of scrap metal rocketed, leading to fewer car fires in Barking and Dagenham streets.

Chris Daly, fire brigade Cdr for Barking and Dagenham, said: “The dramatic decrease in deliberate fires means Londoners are a great deal safer from these needless acts of destruction than they were 10 years ago.

“We have worked incredibly hard with partners, the police and the council to bring these figures down and make the capital safer.”

An LFB spokesman said the decline in arsons could be partly attributed to the rising value of scrap steel used to make cars, after figures showed it had soared five-fold from £35 a tonne in 2001 to £185 a tonne last year.

The spokesman added the brigade had schemes in place to reduce the number of fires in particular remove abandoned vehicles and worked with potential arsonists through its juvenile firesetters intervention team.

The LFB figures show there had been around four arsons each week in London boroughs on average in 2011/12.

In Barking and Dagenham, the number fell from 1,844, or 35 a week in 2001/02, to 289 in 2011/12.

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