School lucky to escape damage after porch fire

By Anna Ferrick


Four Hastings Intermediate School students have been referred to Police Youth Aid after they allegedly lit a fire on a porch at the school on Saturday night.

The boys, aged 12 and 13, were quickly identified by school principal Andrew Shortcliffe who said he confronted the four yesterday morning.

"I suspected it was them and they admitted it."

Mr Shortcliffe contacted the families of the boys and police, who attended a meeting at the school.

He said it was not the first time this sort of behaviour had occurred. It was "stupid and reckless" and the Board of Trustees were taking the offending very seriously.

The boys allegedly went to the school around 8.30pm on Saturday night where they collected rubbish from bins around the grounds and set fire to it on a porch.

They also broke into the building through a window, but did not take anything or cause any damage inside the school.

Mr Shortcliffe said a tag was also found on the side of one of the buildings.

The fire service attended and extinguished the fire with a bucket of water. Mr Shortcliffe said it left little damage but could easily have "escalated".

"I'm not sure they are fully aware of what could have happened. It may have initially started as just something to do, or to keep warm, but it could have turned into something quite dangerous. You don't light a fire next to a building."

He said the parents of the boys had been supportive.

It was now up to Mr Shortcliffe whether the boys would be stood down. He said it was then up to the Board of Trustees to decide what would happen to the boys.

Mr Shortcliffe said despite the damage being minimal, it was the "intention" that was a major worry for the school.

"The rest of the student body were very upset about it too.

"We've had very little of this sort of thing at our school before but we are of course aware that it does happen," he said.

He said any behaviour like it was not only anti-social but greatly concerning.

"With the current laws the way they are, kids under 14 don't seem to think there are any consequences."

Police Youth Aid did not respond to calls when contacted yesterday.

Children aged between 10 and 13 cannot be prosecuted except for the most serious of crimes.

They can however be issued a formal caution.

Police Youth Aid can arrange for alternative action, like diversion, after consultation with victims, the child and their family.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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