Royston church fire was "not arson"

8 March 2019, 19:01 | Updated: 8 March 2019, 19:04

Damage after Royston Church fire

A fire at a church in Royston in the run up to Christmas was not started on purpose.

Police have confirmed they've followed up every line of enquiry and they now believe there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the blaze.

The fire at St John the Baptist Church started on December 9, 2018 and early indications suggested that the fire might have been started deliberately or as a result of lead being removed from the church roof.

However, as the investigation continued, it became apparent that this was not the case. Detective Constable Mike Hardiman explained:

“Every possible line of enquiry has been followed. All initial aspects of this incident which supported the idea of third party involvement, have been investigated and ruled out.

No lead had been taken, no equipment used by a would-be suspect was found and there were no tyre marks or foot prints found in the immediate area.

I know that at the time there was great concern within the local community that the church had been deliberately targeted and this was very upsetting, particularly as it was in the run up to Christmas.

As the investigation progressed it became apparent that much of the initial evidence that suggested criminal behaviour could actually be accounted for and the incident was deemed as non suspicious.

We take all possible cases of heritage crime very seriously and it was appropriate that we carried out a thorough investigation, appealed for potential witnesses and ruled out all possibilities.”

Neighbourhood Inspector Richard Lilley added:

“The fire had a big impact on the local community and we are still working closely with the clergy whilst the church is repaired. We have provided both meeting facilities and storage space to enable the church to function as effectively as possible. “

(c) Hertfordshire Police