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This article reviews the current literature on known risk factors for recidivistic arson, with a particular focus on factors that could be used to differentiate serial from ‘‘oneoff’’ arson offenders. The relevance of risk factors for general reoffending to recidivistic arson is discussed, including the role of criminal history, mental illness, and sociodemographic factors. The specific roles of offence-related affect, cognitions, and the offender’s interest in fire are considered, with recommendations for how theories from other areas of forensic psychology, such as the sex offender assessment and treatment literature, might be applied to the issue of deliberate fire-setting. Finally, protective factors are briefly discussed and the need for a structured risk assessment tool for deliberate firsetters is canvassed. Given that research into risk and recidivism in firesetting is underdeveloped, suggestions are made throughout the review for the focus of future research into risk factors for serial arson.
This document has been peer reviewed.