Interventions with arsonists and young fire setters: A survey of the national picture in England and Wales

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Objectives. Arson is a serious problem that has high costs in both financial and non-financial terms. It is important that effective provision to intervene with arsonists and young fire setters is available.

Method. A national survey was conducted of organizations delivering interventions to arsonists and young fire setters. This survey included fire and rescue services, probation areas, youth offending services, forensic mental health units, several government departments, and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. The survey was followed by site visits to eight organizations to conduct interviews with relevant staff.

Results. The majority of interventions for children and adolescents were provided by fire and rescue services, often in conjunction with local youth offending services. Some forensic mental health units provided interventions, but no specialist provision for arsonists appeared to be available in either the prison or probation services. The site visits and interviews revealed areas of good practice across the organizations visited, and highlighted areas where developments might be made to improve services.

Conclusions. The findings are discussed in light of the available literature, and recommendations made for future practice.

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