19 October 2016 from 14:30 to 15:45

PhD defence Lydia Dalhuisen: There is no such thing as the Dutch firesetter

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.

The offenders
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.”    

Doctoral thesis defence ceremony

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


2.30 – 3.45 PM


Academiegebouw, Utrecht University, Domplein 29


Dr M.C.A. Liem and Dr J.M.L. van Mulbregt LLM

About Lydia Dalhuisen
Lydia Dalhuisen (1987) obtained her master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology in 2009. In 2011, she completed a second master’s degree in Criminal Law, in which she focused on the interface between psychology and law and already conducted research into firesetting. From September 2011, she worked as a PhD candidate at the Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology (WPI) at Utrecht University, also working as a researcher at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital of GGZ Drenthe in Assen. In addition, she currently teaches Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology at the Willem Pompe Institute.

Start date and time
19 October 2016 14:30
End date and time
19 October 2016 15:45
PhD candidate
Lydia Dalhuisen
Firesetting and firesetters in the Netherlands. Individualization, identification and treatment
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. dr. F.A.M.M. KoenraadtProf. dr. F. de Jong
mr. J.M.L. van Mulbregtdr. M.C.A. Liem
Entrance fee
Free of charge