Live updates


Police look for young 'copy cat' school arsonists

The fire at Annfield Plain Infant School. Credit: Durham Police

Four youngsters who were seen near to the location of a suspected arson at a school are being sought by Durham Police.

The blaze broke out at about 6pm on Saturday at Annfield Plain Infant School, near Stanley.

The fire was contained to a wheelie bin next to the school, with a small amount of smoke damage caused to the school itself.

Police believe youths may have started the fire deliberately, mimicking whoever is responsible for a series of fires in the town in recent weeks.

We believe that it is likely the fire was started deliberately, and the police are appealing for information to trace those responsible. In particular, we would like to trace four children who were seen nearby shortly before the fire was reported. Within the group was one girl, who is described as white, around 14 years old with long blonde hair and wearing a green parker coat. She was with three males, all white and around 12-14 years old. Two of the boys wore dark jackets and were slim in build with dark hair, while the other was bit shorter and plumper. This male was wearing a grey onesie and riding a very small bike which appeared far too small for him. We are concerned that it may have been started as an attempt of notoriety or to copy a previous event. What is clear is that this was a stupid, mindless act, which should not be tolerated and I urge anyone with information to come forward and speak with us. Annfield Plain is a close community, and those responsible for this fire will be known by someone.

– Detective Inspector Gavin Heckles, Durham Police

This latest fire follows a series of suspected arsons in Stanley in February.

Burnside Primary School was hit by fire, and this was followed by five more arson attacks targeting people's homes on the town's Poet's Estate.

In relation to those fires, one man has charged with two counts of arson with intent to endanger life, two cases of attempted arson with intent to endanger life and an arson on a car parked in Joicey Gardens.

He was also charged with arson in relation to a fire at Burnside Primary School in Stanley on February 10.


Load more updates