A preliminary firesetting offence chain for adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities

J. Collins, M. Barnoux, P. E. Langdon

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Background: The theoretical understanding of firesetting behaviour has predominantly been developed with men in prisons or psychiatric hospitals without neurodevelopmental disabilities. Consequently, there is a lack of evidence regarding the validity of current theory when applied to adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism.

Method: Thirteen adults in England with intellectual and other developmental disabilities were interviewed about the affective, cognitive, behavioural, and contextual factors leading up to and surrounding a recorded firesetting incident. Interviews were analysed using a Grounded Theory approach.

Results: The resulting model consists of four phases: (1) background, (2) early adulthood, (3) pre-offence period, and (4) offence, and post offence period.

Conclusion: The model accounts for unique precursors to firesetting including mental health deterioration, poor problem solving, and new motivations for firesetting. Unlike other offence chain theories, the significance of post-offence behaviour and cognitions are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-160
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability
Issue number2
Early online date13 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2023

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