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Article
Publication date: 9 September 2014

Clive G. Long, Geoffrey Dickens and Olga Dolley

The purpose of this paper is to assess the antecedent behaviours and consequences of firesetting for women in a secure psychiatric setting along with treatment engagement…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess the antecedent behaviours and consequences of firesetting for women in a secure psychiatric setting along with treatment engagement factors. To explore predictions made about emotionally expressive subtype firesetters by the multi-trajectory theory of adult firesetting (M-TTAF).

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 75 individual firesetting episodes involving 25 female multiple firesetters were assessed using the St Andrew's Fire and Arson Risk Instrument. Assessments were made of treatment readiness, firesetting related self-efficacy, insight and barriers to change.

Findings

Findings support the relationship between recidivist firesetting and the psychological features of psychosis, personality disorder and substance misuse. The reported association of firesetting with suicidal thoughts, depression, interpersonal problems, anger/revenge motivation and lack of planning supports the view that behaviour is used to manage distressing life experience and as a “cry for help”. However, in a quarter of incidents there was an intention to harm others and evidence of premeditation in twelve percent. A small but significant minority lacked insight into their behaviour, were not ready for treatment and had low firesetting related self-efficacy. Predictions made by the M-TTAF about likely clinical features and motivators of emotionally expressive firesetters were largely supported.

Originality/value

The study highlights the importance of a detailed and specific risk assessment of firesetting that leads to identification of individual risk factors and an individualised treatment approach. This is of particular importance given the complex problems presented by women in secure settings and by the diversity of the conditions associated with fires set by each individual.

Details

Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2013

Troy Tranah and Jennifer Nicholas

The aim of this paper is to review the current literature on working with young people with intellectual disabilities who commit arson.

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to review the current literature on working with young people with intellectual disabilities who commit arson.

Design/methodology/approach

A review of assessment methods and interventions involving young people with intellectual disabilities who start fires was completed. It explores the trends across the population of firesetters as a whole and also compares how treatment implications may differ for young people with and without an intellectual disability.

Findings

The paper outlines the core risk factors to be investigated within an assessment of a young firesetter with intellectual disabilities. In terms of treatment, the best current approach appears to be a combination of education and cognitive behavioural approaches including social skills training. Other treatment modalities, e.g. joint interventions provided by fire services and mental health services, are also discussed.

Originality/value

Given the lack of available literature on young firesetters with intellectual disabilities it is hoped that this paper will be useful in guiding clinicians working in this area and also prompt future research regarding treatment with this client group.

Details

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2044-1282

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Article
Publication date: 3 December 2019

Søren Holst, Dorte Lystrup and John L. Taylor

The purpose of this paper is to gather epidemiologicalinformation concerning firesetters with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Denmark to identify the assessment and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to gather epidemiologicalinformation concerning firesetters with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Denmark to identify the assessment and treatment needs of this population and inform further research in this area.

Design/methodology/approach

The records held by the Danish Ministry of Justice concerning all firesetters with ID convicted of deliberate firesetting were reviewed for the period January 2001 to December 2010 inclusive. File information was extracted for 83 offenders concerning: demographic and personal characteristics; mental health characteristics; offending behaviour; offence-specific factors; and motives for offending. A sub-group of seven offenders were interviewed to explore some of the themes that emerged from the file review.

Findings

The majority of study participants were male and were classified as having mild ID and around 50 per cent had additional mental health problems. Many came from disturbed and deprived backgrounds. Two-thirds had set more than one fire and over 60 per cent had convictions for offences other than firesetting. Alcohol was involved in the firesetting behaviour in a significant proportion of cases (25 per cent). The motives for setting fires were – in descending order – communication (of anger, frustration and distress), fire fascination and vandalism. Interviews with participants indicated the important communicative function of firesetting, the difficulties people had in talking about and acknowledging their firesetting behaviour, and lack of access to targeted interventions.

Research limitations/implications

Interventions for Danish firesetters with ID, as for firesetters with ID elsewhere, need to target the communicative function of this behaviour, along with offenders’ lack of insight and initial reluctance to accept responsibility for their behaviour and associated risks. Adjunctive treatment is required to address the psychiatric comorbidity experienced by many of these offenders, along with the alcohol use/misuse that is associated with many of these offences.

Originality/value

This is the first study concerning nature and needs of firesetters with ID in Denmark.

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: 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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 December 2019

John L. Taylor and Ian Thorne

People with intellectual disabilities who set fires are a heterogeneous and clinically complex group who present significant challenges to the wider community and to…

Abstract

Purpose

People with intellectual disabilities who set fires are a heterogeneous and clinically complex group who present significant challenges to the wider community and to forensic practitioners working in forensic mental health and correctional settings. There is little available in the literature to support professionals when considering assessment and formulation for clients exhibiting these perturbing behaviours. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper the materials available to assist forensic practitioners in considering assessment and formulation of people with intellectual disabilities who set fires are described and outlined.

Findings

An assessment scheme is proposed for organising information from a variety of sources to assist professionals in understanding the nature of risks and clinical needs of firesetters with intellectual disabilities. A newly revised risk assessment measure designed for this population is provided.

Practical implications

Forensic practitioners are provided with a framework and tools to assist with their assessment and formulation of firesetters with intellectual disabilities.

Originality/value

This is the first time a newly revised risk assessment for firesetting behaviour by people with intellectual disabilities has been presented.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 December 2019

John L. Taylor

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Abstract

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: 9 October 2019

Clare S. Allely

There is increasing attention on investigating the association between fire-setting and psychopathology and also the degree to which fire-setting is a manifestation of…

Abstract

Purpose

There is increasing attention on investigating the association between fire-setting and psychopathology and also the degree to which fire-setting is a manifestation of mental disorder. Despite the actual prevalence of pyromania remaining elusive, there is growing evidence in the literature highlighting the higher rates of psychiatric mental health disorders in fire-setters, the most common being: schizophrenia, mood disorders (such as anxiety and depression), personality disorders, alcohol abuse and intellectual disability. The purpose of this paper is to highlight more recent work on prevalence, pathways and assessment in offenders who have engaged in fire-setting.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides an overview of the literature on fire-setting and psychopathology with a focus on prevalence, pathways and assessment.

Findings

This review identified key literature which has identified a variety of distinct pathways to fire-setting and also highlights two assessments/measures for fire-setters. Such information is useful for clinicians when they encounter this group of offenders.

Practical implications

This paper has identified in the literature and recommends the use of the “Fire Setting Scale” and the “Fire Proclivity Scale” in clinical and/or forensic practice.

Originality/value

There is a very real need for additional empirical research in this area. There is also a need for an increased awareness and understanding of how various types of psychopathy can contribute to fire-setting in both a legal and clinical context.

Details

Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

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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: 15 March 2013

Ronn Johnson, Heidi Beckenbach and Samantha Kilbourne

This paper aims to present an overview of a variety of risk assessment issues that are of particular relevance for work with juvenile fire setters in clinical and forensic…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present an overview of a variety of risk assessment issues that are of particular relevance for work with juvenile fire setters in clinical and forensic settings. The paper seeks to consider Juvenile Fire Setting (JFS)‐Youthful Misuse of Fire (YMF) across a broad array of clinical domains, including developmental, prognostic, and the diagnostic utility anticipated by using the DSM‐5. National standards and risk assessment levels are to be examined.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper includes a comprehensive review of the research and practices related to juvenile fire setters. This review included assessment and intervention resources that are used in diverse practice environments. The authors reviewed the literature to establish a nexus between risk assessment and community‐based interventions which were illustrated by a nationally recognized YMF mental health program (FATJAM).

Findings

The paper provides empirically‐based insights into key issues for working with these forensic cases. It offers discussion regarding diagnostic issues that are relevant to the DSM‐5.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the conceptual or theoretical approach used, the research basis for generalizations is restricted to the practice‐based analyses provided by the authors. Therefore, practitioners and researchers are urged to further test the observations and conclusions presented.

Originality/value

This paper is unique in that it increases the knowledge base related to the diagnostic applications with the DSM‐5, as well as evidence‐based interventions for JFS as it pertains to public safety.

Details

Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

Keywords

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