Few studies have adequately explored the characteristics of male and female mentally disordered firesetters and compared these to those of non-firesetting mentally disordered offenders. Further, there is a paucity of research examining the characteristics which can predict repeat firesetting within this population. The current study aimed to examine similarities and differences in the characteristics of (1) male and female mentally disordered firesetters, (2) male and female mentally disordered firesetters compared to non-firesetting offenders, and (3) one-time and repeat firesetters. Further, the ability of these characteristics to predict offence status (i.e., firesetter or non-firesetter) and repeat firesetting was explored. Information was collected from patient hospital records for 77 (43 firesetters, 34 non-firesetters) mentally disordered offenders; including sociodemographic, family and personal background, psychiatric, and offence history factors. The findings suggest that mentally disordered firesetters are similar to their non-firesetting counterparts on key characteristics; however, firesetters are more likely to have an expressed interest in fire/explosives and a diagnosis of a schizophrenic disorder and female firesetters are more likely to have a higher number of firesetting incidents than males. Further, findings suggest that fire interest is the largest predictor of repeat firesetting. Clinical implications in terms of treatment and risk assessment are discussed.
- Gender differences in offending
- Mentally disordered offender
- Forensic mental health