DELIBERATE fires in West Dunbartonshire have risen by nearly 40 per cent in a year, a new figures state.

In a report to the Community Planning West Dunbartonshire management board, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service officers say they recorded 135 instances of intentional fires being set between April 1 and the end of June this year.

According to the statistics, firebugs struck 39 per cent more than the same period in 2018, rising from 91 across the local authority.

Clydebank Waterfront ward saw 21 callouts, up from 13, and Clydebank Central had the best record, with just nine incidents recorded during the period compared to 11 in the same period in 2018.

The Lomond area showed the most instances during the time, with 29 calls being made to the fire service about a deliberate blaze.

Dumbarton and Kilpatrick followed, each with 26 instances, just two ahead of the Leven ward.

Read more: Violent crime in West Dunbartonshire jumps by nearly a quarter, report shows

Gil Paterson, MSP for Clydebank, said: “The vast majority of deliberately set fires over the period were grass fires, a problem exacerbated by the unseasonably dry spell earlier in the year.

“One person setting fire to some dry grass can do an awful lot of damage and use a disproportionate amount of fire and rescue service time and resources. So, I’m pleased to see that the fire and rescue service are working closely with the council over this kind of behaviour. This co-ordinated approach from our rescue services and the local council is an effective tool in the fantastic job they do of keeping us all safe.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said the rise could be caused by a lack of opportunities in the community.

He said: “There is no single silver bullet, but societies with far less poverty and far more opportunity also have far fewer of these problems.”

“Like so many other crimes though, there is a direct link between fire-starting and lack of positive opportunities. We need investment in our communities and in our schools to tackle this. We need more, better quality jobs to tackle this.”