Police have arrested one person after the recent arson attack on the John Galsworthy building.
Local CID launched an investigation following the incident last on Wednesday March 9, which saw hundreds of frightened students evacuated from the building. Firefighters at the time described it as “arson”, and the university immediately informed police.
Kingston police said: “One person has been arrested and bailed to the 6 May.” It is understood that the person in question has not yet been charged with any offence, and police are still carrying out enquiries.
The university is helping police, and it is widely speculated that university swipe cards, which are needed to access all rooms in the John Galsworthy building, may be of some use in identifying anyone involved with the crime.
Concerns have also been raised over the efficacy of the alarm systems in the architecture award-winning building. Some students reported a delay of several minutes between being evacuated and the sounding of the fire alarm.
First year student Ryan Rocastle, who was on the second floor when the fire started, said: “The fire alarms didn’t go off until about three or four minutes after we heard there was a fire. They only went off when we were walking down the stairs.
“We were lucky to get out when we did because it looked like it was getting worse.”
The university have said that this is due to security staff alerting the students most at risk before sounding the alarms for the whole building, and have said they will carry out an internal incident review, including an “audibility check of the alarms in the building.”
Ian Appleford, university health and safety manager, said: “Initial reports and observations suggest the evacuation procedure worked well with the building being evacuated within about seven minutes.
“What might have happened in this specific instance is that a few students on the second floor were verbally told to leave the building by security staff just before they sounded the alarms.”