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Interventions with Arsonists and Young Fire Setters: A Survey of the National Picture in England and Wales

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 101-116
Emma J. Palmer; Laura S. Caulfield; Clive R. Hollin
Date Published
February 2007
16 pages
National surveys in England and Wales solicited information on interventions with arsonists and young fire setters.
The surveys found that the majority of arson and fire-setting interventions for children and adolescents were provided by fire and rescue services, often in conjunction with services for local juvenile offenders. Some forensic mental health units provided interventions, but there was apparently no specialized treatment for arsonists by either prison or probation services. Regarding assessment procedures, interventions in the forensic mental health units had good procedures for identifying participants needing intervention. Practice was more mixed in the fire and rescue services, with some having little if any routine assessment. Treatment integrity measures were not in place for any of the fire and rescue interventions at the sites visited. Staff in forensic mental health units were familiar with program integrity, but typically viewed it as irrelevant to mental health settings. Some monitoring and evaluation procedures were in place within forensic mental health units. In addition to increasing the standard of current interventions, there is a need to develop new state-of-the-art interventions for serious adolescent and adult arson offenders, along with tools for accurate identification and assessment of these groups. Questionnaires were sent to 327 organizations, and 144 responses were received (44-percent response rate). Organizations contacted included fire and rescue services, probation services, youth offending services, forensic mental health units, the Home Office, the Prison Service, the Research Development and Statistics Directorate, and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. Information was requested on the intervention's origin/development, target population, participant profile, referral sources, scheduling, program intensity and length, approach used by the intervention, staffing, training of facilitators, and the availability of evidence of effectiveness. 2 tables and 44 references