Aviva-owned Norwich Union has warned businesses across the UK that summer is the season for arson attacks and wants firms to take action to protect their buildings.

Children with nothing to do over the school holidays often use unoccupied buildings as play areas, the insurer said, with GBP790 million paid out in commercial fire claims last year, up 60% from the year before.

Paul Reddington, property claims manager at Norwich Union, said: We want to raise awareness of this problem and ensure that businesses undertake risk management to protect their property by implementing a number of easy, cost effective or ‘no cost’ measures.

Mr Reddington made several recommendations to businesses to prevent fires over the summer. One of the common causes of arson is waste stored outside in wheelie bins or on pallets, and this should be kept out of reach. We have seen devastating fire damage due to unsecured bins being pushed against buildings and the contents ignited causing the fire to spread, Mr Reddington said.

Other suggestions include a prominent CCTV system, secure walls and entry points, as well as a fire alarm that will alert the emergency services.