Affliction of aggression and violence through fire: An investigation of firesetting behaviour by males within intimate partner violence

Research Institution / Organisation

University of South Wales

Principal Researcher

Mike Adams

Level of Research


Project Start Date

April 2016

Research Context

​Male oriented intimate partner violence (IPV) against female victims occurs on national, regional and global levels, with IPV affecting 30% of women globally during their lifetime (García-Moreno et al., 2013). The national prevalence of IPV across England and Wales (Crime Survey of England and Wales 2013/14) was at 28.3%, equating to an estimated 4.6 million female victims (Office for National Statistics, 2015); a value equivalent to the global estimates. Whilst IPV lethality risk studies have focused on a range of offender traits, an area of offender behaviour absent from IPV research has been deliberate firesetting or arson. Whilst absent from IPV studies, it is an area of offender behaviour that is not understood in all contexts (Horley & Bowlby, 2011).

The main aims of the study are to research and understand deliberate firesetting in the context of intimate partner violence by male offenders against female victims, as outlined in the title ‘Affliction of aggression and violence through fire.’
The objectives of this research are to contribute to the criminological and forensic understanding of intimate partner violence on a composite level, with the inclusion of deliberate firesetting. The research results will highlight development of offender behaviour over a temporal period, and generate an evolved understanding of aggression and violence within IPV incidents through:

  1. The prevalence of arson and arson threats within IPV incidents across [Wales, England & Wales, National, International]
  2. The examination and comparison of IPV risk assessment tools, evaluating how firesetting is captured and assessed.
  3. The examination and context of firesetting and IPV incidents and whether they should be conceptualised as violent crimes, instead of its default categorisation as a property crime.
  4. The examination of non-confrontational IPV [firesetting] incidents against the stalking element of IPV to identify any associations.

Research Methodology

​Both quantitative and qualitative research methods will be employed to address the research questions and objectives. Multiple methods will allow the different research objectives and questions to be fully explored.

  • A systematic review of literature to establish a baseline of the association between arson/firesetting, crimes against property, IPV lethality and aggression/violent behaviour. Analysing the literature through content analysis techniques will establish a baseline for the ‘property / violent crime’ dichotomous question;
  • Data will be sought from police services around the United Kingdom on IPV incidents that include firesetting to compile a set of chronologies that seeks to establish behaviour over the time period of events;
  • Data will be sought from NGO Domestic Violence organisations to establish IPV incidents that include firesetting to compile a set of chronologies to establish behaviour over the time period of the events (Sample size: 30-40);
  • Data will be sought from NOMS to establish IPV offenders and permission for them to be approached (directly or indirectly) for the purpose of completing a survey or structured interview. The surveys and interviews will be used to gather data on the firesetting incident and its context in the chronology of IPV events. (Sample size: 20-30).

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

April 2021
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