Police warning after arson attack

Raimbow Under 5s playgroup has installed CCTV in a bid to stop vandals. Pictured with some of the youngsters are leader/manager Calre Male (right) and her deputy Jenny Featherstone. Photo by Chris Carson Raimbow Under 5s playgroup has installed CCTV in a bid to stop vandals. Pictured with some of the youngsters are leader/manager Calre Male (right) and her deputy Jenny Featherstone. Photo by Chris Carson

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
8:14 AM

Axminster’s Rainbows playgroup is forced to install security cameras after a spate of vandalism

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Scorch  marks on the door vandals tried to set alight at Axminster's Rainbows Under 5s playschool.Scorch marks on the door vandals tried to set alight at Axminster's Rainbows Under 5s playschool.

An attempt to set fire to wooden buildings at an Axminster playgroup has been branded ‘mindless and dangerous’ by police.

The say the arson attack on the Rainbow Under 5s complex, off Stoney Lane, could have resulted in a major blaze.

And they have warned young vandals who continue to target the playgroup, in the grounds of the town’s community primary school, that their behaviour will not be tolerated.

In the latest weekend attack, a storage unit was entered and white spirit and paper taken which was placed against a door and set alight.

Luckily the fire did not take hold, but police say the blaze could easily have spread to the main timber-framed building only feet away.

“It was absolutely mindless stupidity and it could have caused a major fire,” said Police Community Support Officer Andy Trott. “If any parents smelt smoke on their children when they came home we are asking them to please ring 101, quoting crime reference CR/079871/14.”

The incident happened between 6pm on Friday, June 6, and 7.30 pm on the following Sunday. In previous attacks play equipment in the grounds has been thrown around and graffiti drawn in chalk on the toddlers’ outdoor tables.

Playgroup manager Clare Male said they dreaded going in on a Monday because of what they might find. She told the Herald: “We are really getting fed up with it - we don’t mind people in our garden as long as they respect it. What sort of people need to trash a children’s play area?”

In the latest attack she said that, in addition to the arson attempt, play equipment was thrown around and glass smashed in the play area.

“Due to the inconsiderate behaviour of others the children were unable to use the outside area while it was safety checked and cleaned up,” she said. “The playgroup committee has agreed that a considerable amount of money will now need to be spent on a CCTV system to prevent further damage and expense replacing equipment. This incident has been extremely upsetting for the staff and children.”

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