Firesetting and general criminal recidivism among a consecutive sample of Finnish pretrial male firesetters: A register-based follow-up study

Psychiatry Res. 2018 Jan;259:377-384. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.11.008. Epub 2017 Nov 5.


The rate of criminal reoffending among firesetters varies greatly. Our aim was to investigate firesetting and general criminal recidivism in a consecutive sample of Finnish males who were sent for a forensic psychiatric examination (FPE)1 after committing firesetting offenses. We also wanted to evaluate the relationships between psychopathy and criminal recidivism, and between schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and criminal recidivism. The sample comprised 113 firesetters with a mean age of 32.8 years, and the average follow-up time was 16.9 years. The FPE statements of the firesetters were reviewed and psychiatric diagnoses were collected. The psychopathy assessments were based on the 20-item Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). Information on reoffending was gathered from the Finnish National Police Register. During the follow-up 20 (18%) persons were registered for a new firesetting and 84 (74%) for any new offense. Firesetters with high traits (PCL-R ≥ 25) of psychopathy were more likely than those with low traits (PCL-R < 25) to reoffend with any crime during the follow-up. The risk of general criminal recidivism was lower among firesetters with a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder than among those with non-psychotic disorders. Conclusively, both firesetting and general criminal-recidivism rates were high in this sample of offenders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Checklist
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Finland
  • Firesetting Behavior / psychology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recidivism / psychology*
  • Registries
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Young Adult