Works Minister Kevin Minson today launched two publications addressing the cost to taxpayers of wilful and accidental damage to public buildings.
Mr Minson said the documents, `Minimising Wilful and Accidental Damage to Public Buildings' and ‘Designing Buildings to Reduce Damage', were aimed at reducing an expensive and widespread problem.
"As the Auditor General pointed out this week, wilful damage to public property can amount to millions a year," he said.
"In 1993, the figure was $27 million.
"Ninety per cent of all damage to public property is to schools through vandalism and fire.
"Last financial year, more than $2 million was spent replacing broken windows in public buildings. Of this $1.8 million was for school windows.
"Over the same period of time there were 154 incidents of fire, 86 were deliberately lit at an estimated cost of $1.5 million."
Mr Minson launched the publications at the Osborne Primary School where an arson attempt in August was thwarted by building design and a good security system and the alleged offenders were identified and caught through the school's School Watch program.
"By sheer good luck, the fire was started in an extension to the school which meant the presence of a firewall stopped its spread," he said.
"The security system was well maintained and resulted in a fast response from the Fire Brigade and the public assistance provided by School Watch meant a quick arrest."
Mr Minson said the documents were the result of co-operation between a number of Government agencies including:
the Department of Contract and Services Management which chaired the group;
the Police Service;
Fire and Rescue Service;
Local Government; and
`Designing Buildings to Reduce Damage' addresses building design and placement issues such as firewalls, location, planning, vegetation, fences and security.
`Minimising Wilful and Accidental Damage to Public Buildings' is directed at building owners, managers and occupiers and the public.
The Minister said the public's involvement was a vital component.
"Public buildings are generally for the benefit of the public which means that reducing damage to these buildings is everybody's job," he said.
"Less damage to public property means more money the Government can spend on other items. For example, $27 million would provide several new schools or multi-purpose health centres in suburban or regional areas."
Copies of the report are available from CAMS on 222 55 55.
Media contact: Caroline Lacy 015 083 526 or 272 7222.