Half of public buildings inspected in Cumbria last year were found in breach of fire safety regulations.

Home Office data shows 157 buildings inspected by the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service in the year to March did not comply with fire safety laws – 50 per cent of those inspected.

They included 38 hotels, 26 shops and 48 other forms of sleeping accommodation.

Fire services conduct audits on most public buildings and the shared areas of residential properties such as flats to make sure they meet safety regulations.

When inspections are unsatisfactory, auditors may issue an informal notification – for example to agree an action plan – or formal ones such as enforcement notices, warning that a building breaches the law.

In the most serious cases, inspectors may issue a prohibition notice to restrict or ban access to a building or they may prosecute those responsible for the property’s safety.

In the year to March, the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service issued 14 formal notifications, including nine enforcement notices and five prohibition notices. There were no prosecutions.

With the number of inspections plummeting nationally due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fire Brigades Union warned catching up will be made difficult by a drop in the number of inspectors.

In response to the pandemic, a number of audits were also carried out remotely, though a figure has not been provided by the Home Office.