LONDON, May 22 (UPI) -- Figures released by Britain's Conservative party indicate that schools in the country are targeted by arson attacks an average of four times each day.
The Conservatives said the data, obtained under the country's Freedom of Information Act, revealed police were called to deal with purposefully set fires at schools nearly 3,000 times during the past two years, with many of the blazes started by students, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The figures were released after a Conservative-backed amendment to the new Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill was defeated. The amendment, which would have given teachers the right to search for and confiscate any possessions, including lighters and matches, was rejected amid concerns that it would violate the human rights of students.
"The large number of arson attacks, on top of all the other problems in schools, is deeply worrying," said Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary.
Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said the government is working with law enforcement to combat the arson problem.
"We are working with the Arson Prevention Bureau to cut the number of arson attacks on schools and local fire and rescue services also run schemes which target vandals or those showing an unhealthy interest in starting fires," she said.