Firesetting has a huge impact on Dutch society due to its serious consequences, such as (fatal) victims and large financial damage. However, until now this subject has hardly been studied in the Netherlands even though knowledge about specific firesetters can contribute to apprehension and treatment of offenders and thus to a reduction in firesetting activities. That is why PhD candidate Lydia Dalhuisen made an inventory of the various types of firesetters.
“Firesetting has barely been researched, even though firesetters may cause huge damage through relatively small actions”, according to PhD Lydia Dalhuisen LLM, in her doctoral thesis entitled Firesetting and firesetters in the Netherlands. Individualization, identification and treatment. Dalhuisen will defend her thesis on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 at Utrecht University.
In order to reduce the risk of firesetting and its corresponding negative consequences in the future, the identification of firesetters is essential. Dalhuisen was able to distinguish the following subgroups from her file research into Dutch firesetters, each with their own specific features:
- Vandals: young boys creating havoc in groups
- Disordered firesetters: firesetters whose acts are caused by psychological problems
- Disturbed-relationship firesetters: firesetters who wish to take revenge on someone they know
- Opportunists: firesetters who hope to (financially) gain from their acts
- Desiring firesetters: firesetters who are obsessively attracted to fire
- Firesetters who have multiple problems
More attention to the prevention and consequences of firesetting
Dalhuisen’s findings contribute to the prevention of firesetting by way of an early-stage and more focused investigation as well as adequate treatment. “But the subject should receive far more attention”, says Dalhuisen. “Knowledge about firesetting and firesetters is a first step.”