BBC investigation after Lakanal House tragedy reveals councils committing criminal offence of failing to carry out fire risk assessments

An investigation carried out in the wake of the fire at Lakanal House in Southwark, London, has found at least 253 social housing high-rises have not been fire checked by their local authority.

Lambeth council, the worst offender, has only carried out risk assessments on two of its 112 tower blocks. Under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005, councils must conduct fire risk assessments before and during major refurbishments, failure to do constitutes a criminal offence.

The investigation conducted by the BBC involved sending out Freedom of Information requests to 32 boroughs which in turn showed that at least eight councils had been failing to conduct the correct assessments. The responses from councils revealed there are 72 unchecked and potentially unsafe tower bocks in Greenwich, 34 in Hammersmith & Fulham and 16 in Islington.

A Lambeth council spokesperson said: "Lambeth council's housing stock is larger than most other boroughs, and by December all blocks over 10 storeys will hold a valid fire safety risk assessment, with the remaining high rise blocks being completed by March 2010."

Southwark council, which controls Lakanal House in Camberwell, refused to answer the BBC's Freedom of Information request. A Southwark council spokesperson said revealing the number of its tower blocks without valid risk assessments would "prejudice" the official investigation into the Lakanal fire.