Comparing the characteristics of firesetting and non-firesetting offenders: are firesetters a special case?

Lauren Victoria Ducat, Troy Erin McEwan, James Robert Ogloff

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28 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated unique risk factors for firesetting in a population of deliberate firesetters (n = 207) who appeared before courts between 2004 and 2009. It aimed to investigate differences between firesetting and non-firesetting offenders and determine whether offenders with only arson offences (exclusive) differed from those with more versatile (firesetting and other offence types) offending careers. Four-way comparisons were made between non-firesetters, exclusive firesetters, predominant firesetters and mixed firesetters. The demographic, criminological and clinical characteristics of firesetters were compared with a random sample of non-firesetting offenders using information from court files. The findings suggest that deliberate firesetters and other offenders are similar on key characteristics, although firesetters are more likely to be unemployed and to have a greater prevalence of psychiatric disorders. When comparing exclusive firesetters with the other groups, few differences emerged, including the incidence of past firesetting. It was concluded that firesetters are mostly versatile offenders, and this pattern of offending is associated with greater levels of criminogenic need than exists among non-firesetting offenders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549 - 569
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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