Outcome evaluation of an educational programme for preventing recidivism by adult firesetters

Dominic Pearson, Samuel L. Hayward, Shane Blampied

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Purpose: In intervening to prevent recidivism by adult firesetters there is a dearth of standardised interventions and relatedly of controlled outcome evaluations. Although education is a common firesetter intervention, it is unclear if this changes behaviour of adults; a research situation the current study aimed to address.

Design: The rate of actual fire recidivism of participants of a standardised educational programme, was compared using Cooke’s (1989) equation to expected rates based on the firesetting history of 93 referrals.

Findings: Results indicated a significant large effect for the difference between the frequencies of expected and actual firesetting re-offences.

Research limitations: Limitations of the one group pretest-posttest design are discussed with respect to potential confounds.

Practical implications: This paper adds to the literature on adult firesetter interventions and lends support to the use of fire education to prevent fire recidivism. It provides the first empirically validated example of a structured education programme for adult firesetters. Of interest to services piloting new intervention programmes, it reports an operationally efficient methodology for preliminary evaluation.

Originality: This is the first reported outcome study of a fire safety education programme for adults. The methodology adopted represents a means of preliminary evaluation in safety-critical areas where traditional evaluation designs are infeasible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-208
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Early online date14 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2022


  • arson prevention
  • fire safety education
  • firesetting
  • realistic evaluation
  • reducing recidivism


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