Arson related crimes are some of the most dangerous and potentially tragic crime types.
Arson offences are those where buildings, dwellings, bushland, crops or vehicles are unlawfully damaged or destroyed by fire.
These fires have a massive financial impact on Western Australian state and local government agencies (including WA Police and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services), the community of Western Australia, and various Insurance Companies (potentially impacting on your insurance premiums).
During the 2015/16 bushfire season six West Australians lost their lives to uncontrollable bushfires in the south of Western Australia and another four deaths resulted from a bushfire in Esperance in November 2015. In 2016, two deaths resulted from a bushfire in Yarloop that destroyed the entire town site including more than 100 homes and other historic sites and buildings.
The dangers of bushfires in Australia are well known and equally well documented. The ‘Ash Wednesday’ bushfires in South Australia and Victoria (1983) claimed the lives of 75 people and destroyed in excess of 2500 homes. The ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires in Victoria (2009) claimed the lives of 173 people and destroyed in excess of 2000 homes. This massive loss of life, homes and infrastructure are a reminder of the devastating effect that bushfires can have.
Arson offences are contained in Section 444 and 445 of the Criminal Code or within the Bushfires Act. The maximum penalty for Criminal Damage (caused by fire) is life imprisonment; therefore any charge will be heard in the Supreme Court of Western Australia.