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Article
Publication date: 30 August 2019

Clare Sarah Allely

The purpose of this paper is to identify studies which have investigated arson or firesetting in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify studies which have investigated arson or firesetting in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic PRISMA review was conducted.

Findings

The present review highlighted the relatively little research that has been conducted to date exploring firesetting or arson in individuals with ASD. In sum, 11 papers were identified in the present review study: 6 were case studies and 5 were empirical studies. The case studies identified in the review highlighted some of the ASD symptomology which may contribute to this type of criminal behaviour. Also, the empirical studies indicate that there is a higher prevalence of individuals with ASD who engage in such criminal behaviours.

Research limitations/implications

There is an urgent need for further empirical research in this area and for there to be an increased awareness and understanding of how ASD can contribute to arson and firesetting in both a legal and clinical context.

Originality/value

This is the first review, to the author’s knowledge, to explore the literature on firesetting or arson in individuals with ASD.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8824

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Article
Publication date: 27 January 2021

Ashley N. Hewitt, Eric Beauregard and Jonghan Sea

Early classification systems of fire setting have suffered from several limitations, including the lack of empirical validation and the focus mainly on the offender…

Abstract

Purpose

Early classification systems of fire setting have suffered from several limitations, including the lack of empirical validation and the focus mainly on the offender motivation behind this type of crime. More recent research shows that looking at the crime scene behaviors may present a more fruitful approach for helping to solve fire setting offenses. The purpose of this study is to advance current scholarship by developing a new typology of fire setting based on the combination of offender motive and crime scene behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

Latent class analyses were used with a sample of 134 fire setters who committed 275 arsons from the Korean National Police Agency to identify distinct fire setter motivations and crime scene contexts. Chi-square and crosstabulation analysis were then conducted to determine whether crime scene behaviors were associated with distinct offender motives and vice versa. Lastly, to improve the external validity of each of the latent classes, chi-square analyses were performed using variables related to the fire setters' criminal history, sociodemographic characteristics and arson classification.

Findings

Five motive subtypes were identified as well as five distinct crime scene contexts in which serial fire setting occurs. A significant association among these classes suggests that it is possible to infer fire setters’ motive from crime scene behavior and vice versa.

Originality/value

This comprehensive typology of fire setters has potential for profiling of unknown offenders as well as for suspect prioritization in police investigations.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2007

John Devapriam, Lammata Raju, Niraj Singh, Richard Collacott and Sabyasachi Bhaumik

The prevalence rate of arson in offenders with intellectual disabilities (ID) has been reported to be higher than that in the general population. This retrospective study…

Abstract

The prevalence rate of arson in offenders with intellectual disabilities (ID) has been reported to be higher than that in the general population. This retrospective study focuses on examining the characteristics of offenders with ID and the range of identified reasons for the index offence. The findings indicate a higher prevalence of arson in this population, along with the fact that the majority of people with ID who have committed arson tend to bypass the Criminal Justice System. A significant number are likely to repeat the behaviour and will also commit other offences. The most common reason for arson appears to be revenge, closely followed by suggestibility. The majority had an associated diagnosis of personality disorders along with an Axis 1 psychiatric diagnosis. Other factors include large family size, history of childhood psychiatric disorders, abuse, homelessness, unemployment and relationship difficulties.

Details

The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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Article
Publication date: 16 July 2009

Julia Kelly, Alasdair Goodwill, Nick Keene and Su Thrift

This pilot study investigated three historical risk factors for pathological arson identified in Jackson's Only Viable Option theory (Jackson, 1994), which views the act…

Abstract

This pilot study investigated three historical risk factors for pathological arson identified in Jackson's Only Viable Option theory (Jackson, 1994), which views the act as an adaptive response to circumstances that are difficult to tolerate and which the individual does not have the necessary skills to resolve by appropriate means. Twenty men with mild learning disabilities were recruited from inpatient forensic services. It was hypothesised that there would be a greater incidence of risk factors among individuals with an index offence of arson than those without, and that risk factors would significantly predict an index offence of arson. Significant differences were found between the groups for perceived inability to effect social change and childhood experiences of fire, but not for the family problems under investigation. However, the sample size was too small to draw reliable conclusions on the predictive ability of the risk factors. The findings suggest that perceived inability to effect social change and childhood experiences of fire are risk factors characteristic of men with learning disabilities who have set fires, lending support to elements of Jackson's theory and providing opportunities to develop evidence‐based practice. However, the underlying causes of these risk‐factor characteristics remain unclear. It is hoped that the present study will help inform the choice of risk factors under investigation and improve the design of a larger study.

Details

The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1998

Michael Clarke

The scries of trials arising out of the Metropolitan Police investigation into arson and other insurance frauds under the name Operation Nero concluded in early 1998. The…

Abstract

The scries of trials arising out of the Metropolitan Police investigation into arson and other insurance frauds under the name Operation Nero concluded in early 1998. The central figure was loss assessor Peter Scott, who was convicted, along with various associates, at two trials in 1996 and 1997 for a number of offences going back to the early 1990s. He received three years' imprisonment for several offences of conspiring to defraud involving bogus burglaries, and another assessor and a jeweller who provided fake valuations received one year each. He was then sentenced to seven years, to run consecutively with his earlier sentence, for organising the arson of a clothing warehouse in the East End of London, and a further five years on charges of conspiracy to defraud insurers, to run concurrently. The owner of the warehouse also received seven years, and three co‐conspirators who rented space in the warehouse received three‐year sentences. A number of other co‐conspirators gave evidence for the Crown. Scott was acquitted in a further trial where he was accused of a £400,000 mortgage fraud which police described as complex and clever. The value of the fraudulent arson at the warehouse was £5m and the police estimated that Scott was responsible for at least £30m of insurance claims, half of them settled by the time his business was raided and records siezed in 1992.

Details

Journal of Financial Crime, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-0790

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Article
Publication date: 3 June 2014

Ashlee Curtis, Keith McVilly and Andrew Day

Offenders with intellectual disability (ID) who commit arson and other acts of fire setting are over-represented in the criminal justice system in Australia, as in many…

Abstract

Purpose

Offenders with intellectual disability (ID) who commit arson and other acts of fire setting are over-represented in the criminal justice system in Australia, as in many other jurisdictions. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the judicial considerations that influence sentencing in these cases.

Design/methodology/approach

Case law was utilised to locate and analyse judges’ sentencing remarks for offenders with ID found guilty of an offence of arson. These data were subject to Inductive Content Analysis to establish the major judicial considerations in sentencing.

Findings

Seven common issues emerged: general deterrence, seriousness of arson, rehabilitation, sentencing options, moral culpability, protection of the community, and punishment. Judges noted that they handed down reduced sentences to persons with ID relative to the severity of their offending, that they considered people with ID to have low levels of moral culpability, and that these offenders did not provide good examples for community deterrence.

Originality/value

The current study highlights the need for judges to have available a range of sentencing options, including diversion and treatment/rehabilitation programmes for persons with ID, particularly for those involved in more serious offences such as arson.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8824

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Article
Publication date: 30 November 2012

Ashlee Curtis, Keith McVilly and Andrew Day

The purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate treatment for adult fire setters with an intellectual disability, given the specific risks they present, the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate treatment for adult fire setters with an intellectual disability, given the specific risks they present, the complexities of criminal proceedings associated with their behaviour, and subsequent rehabilitation. However, the review also took into account programmes for fire setters in the wider population, including those for children and adolescents, given that such research might also inform the development of programmes for offenders with an intellectual disability.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings

Only four studies which evaluated treatment programmes specifically for arsonists with an intellectual disability were identified. Although each of these studies reported a reduction in fire‐setting behaviour following programme completion, all employed relatively weak research designs. An additional 12 studies investigating programmes for arsonists without intellectual disability were also identified. It is concluded that there is a lack of evidence regarding treatment programme outcomes for arsonists with an intellectual disability. The extent to which such programmes can be adapted to suit adult offenders with an intellectual disability is discussed, with recommendations made for the design and evaluation of arson treatment programmes for offenders with intellectual disabilities.

Originality/value

Currently, minimal treatments programs exist for fire setting in offenders with intellectual disability. This review highlights the importance of further research into treatment programs for this specialised population.

Details

Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, vol. 3 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-0927

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Article
Publication date: 18 October 2019

Ashlee Curtis, Keith R. McVilly, Andrew Day, William R. Lindsay, John L. Taylor and Todd E. Hogue

Fire setters who have an intellectual disability (ID) are often identified as posing a particular danger to the community although relatively little is known about their…

Abstract

Purpose

Fire setters who have an intellectual disability (ID) are often identified as posing a particular danger to the community although relatively little is known about their characteristics, treatment and support needs. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

This study describes the characteristics of 134 residents of low, medium and high security ID facilities in the UK who have either an index offence of arson, a violent index offence or a sexual index offence.

Findings

Index arson offenders who had an ID had multiple prior convictions, a history of violent offending and a high likelihood of having a comorbid mental disorder. There were many shared characteristics across the three groups.

Practical implications

The current study suggests that offenders who have ID who set fires have treatment needs that are similar to those of violent and sex offenders. It follows that fire setters who have an ID may also benefit from participating in more established offending behaviour treatment programs, such as cognitive behaviour therapy programs, developed for other types of offender.

Originality/value

This study is one of the few which has investigated the characteristics and treatment needs of persons who have an ID who set fires. In particular, it is one of the first to compare the characteristics and treatment needs for persons with ID who set fires, to those who have committed violent and sexual offences.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8824

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Article
Publication date: 13 February 2017

Phyllis Annesley, Leonie Davison, Chris Colley, Liz Gilley and Louise Thomson

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the implementation and evaluation of interventions for women firesetters in high secure mental healthcare at the UK’s National…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the implementation and evaluation of interventions for women firesetters in high secure mental healthcare at the UK’s National Women’s Service.

Design/methodology/approach

Two types of Arson treatment programmes for women, one delivered to individuals, the other within a group context, were developed, delivered and evaluated. The evaluation incorporated qualitative and quantitative data, including psychometric measures. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings

The evaluation evidenced very high engagement with and attendance at treatment programmes, and several post-treatment gains. Participants’ ratings of programmes and qualitative feedback were similarly very positive. The study demonstrated that engaging women firesetters in their treatment is paramount and can be facilitated by consistent boundaries around therapy provision balanced with sensitivity, empathy and flexibility; providing interactive and varied teaching methods; ongoing service user involvement and recognising participants’ achievements; employing a mixed cognitive analytic therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy therapeutic approach; having input from fire service staff; and maintaining organisational support for firesetting interventions.

Practical implications

In all, 12 key recommendations are made for clinicians considering offering treatment programmes for women firesetters.

Originality/value

Amid few published papers on treating women firesetters this paper guides forensic clinicians in establishing and delivering interventions for women firesetters.

Details

Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8794

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1999

Herschel Prins

The offence of arson is examined within a very brief cultural and historical context; reference is made to the law and the size of the problem in the UK and elsewhere…

Abstract

The offence of arson is examined within a very brief cultural and historical context; reference is made to the law and the size of the problem in the UK and elsewhere. Some typologies are put forward and proffered for improving understanding and management.

Details

The British Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6646

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