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2014-23: Subgroups of arsonists (Call 2014-23)

Target group

Patients in forensic psychiatry who have committed arson.

Subgroups of arsonists distinguished

Arsonists are a specific and distinctive group of offenders within forensic psychiatry. It is remarkable that a large number of arsonists are not subject to a hospital order measure, but they are referred to forensic psychiatry because there is often a psychiatric disorder. To support investigative practice, an inventory has recently been made of the available (scientific) knowledge about the characteristics of arsonists in terms of actions and offender characteristics. Based on this, different forms of arson are distinguished, related to cause and motive. These categories are 1) hooliganistic arson, 2) arson as a disorder, 3) arson as a relationship crime, 4) opportunistic arson and 5) arson out of desire or lust. However, it seems that the offenders and their actions in these categories differ greatly in terms of the characteristics considered relevant for investigation (which can be divided into three subtypes). In addition to the fact that these differences can steer the investigation into arsonists, they may also be of importance for (a distinction in) the treatment of the different subtypes of arsonists. More insight can provide a more tailor-made treatment for this group of forensic patients.

Application and effect

This report provides insight into the existing treatment programmes and interventions for arsonists. The suitability of these programmes and interventions for tackling the diversity of problems affecting the various subgroups of arsonists was also examined. The current treatment offer does not always sufficiently match the (diversity in) problems, and this report offers insight and recommendations based on evidence-based and practice-based treatment methods that are currently used in the Netherlands.

As a result of this study, an implementation procedure (Call 2017-69 ongoing project, Dutch only) was started, to apply a specific treatment protocol for arsonists in a clinical forensic context.

Executive party

GGZ Drenthe