Arson or fire setting in offenders with intellectual disability: Clinical characteristics, forensic histories, and treatment outcomes

Regi T. Alexander, Verity Chester, Fatima N. Green, Ignatius Gunaratna, Sudeep Hoare

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22 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Although many with intellectual disability come to the attention of services for fire setting, research in this area is scarce, which poses challenges for management.

Method: In this paper we examined those with a fire-setting history (n = 30), identified from a sample of 138 patients treated in a UK forensic intellectual disability service. Those with a fire-setting history were compared to those without this history on various clinical, forensic, and treatment outcome variables.

Results: Fire-setting was associated with significant psychopathology, including psychosis and personality disorders. Only half of the fire setters had a formal arson conviction. Fire setters were more likely to have a violence conviction and criminal sections/restriction orders.

Conclusions: Half of those with fire-setting histories did not have formal arson convictions, highlighting the need for thorough history taking. Prevalent comorbidity suggests interventions should focus on treating psychopathology before commencing offence-specific arson therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015


  • Learning disability
  • Arson
  • Fire setting
  • Mental Health
  • Secure
  • Forensic

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