Police are appealing for witnesses after a suspected arson attack, which caused substantial fire and smoke damage to a Watford church.

Firefighters and police officers were called to the Derby Road Baptist Church at about 10am. It is believed the fire was started between 7am and 9am.

Detective Inspector Matt Phillips said: “Detectives are working closely at the scene with specialist investigators from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“Our initial enquiries lead us to believe this was started deliberately, however whilst the exact motivation is unclear, we do not believe this was religiously aggravated. 

“We are keen to identify the person responsible and I would like to ask for the public’s help in our investigation.

“The church is situated on the busy ring road in Watford and I would appeal to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity at the church this morning to call police as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information can telephone Herts Police on 101, or anonymously through Crimestoppers  on 0800 555 111.