Here at Lawson Legal, we take great pride in our connection to the community and the people for whom we litigate. The recent devastation from the Australian bushfires brings monumental suffering on all levels to our nation. We acutely share the pain of our countrymen and wholeheartedly support those who risk life and limb to battle the blazes.
It is sacrifices and losses like we witness because of the fires that make the acts of arson that started some of these fires doubly abhorrent. While there are conflicting figures about the exact number of fires set by arsonists, the fact remains, that at least a part number of these horrific blazes came at the hands of a person without regard for the consequences of their actions.
At Lawson Legal, we, along with millions of others, struggle to make sense of the criminal mind present behind these heinous acts. According to several international studies, most arsonists share several common characteristics. These traits include:
- White male
- In the mid-20s to mid-30s
- Poor social development
- Unreliable history of employment
- Advanced intellect despite poor academic performance
- A possible disorder that makes starting the fire exciting
- Often found on the fringes of society
It is worth noting that recent research challenges these commonly accepted traits. According to Dr Paul Read, co-director of Australia’s National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson, recent studies shed light on the fact that while some of the arsonists may, indeed fit the typical profile, there are other subsets actively involved in arson.
Dr Read calls out the following groups and attributes:
- Those under 21 who are similar to the classic idea of children playing with fire. Members of this group often do not have criminal activities in mind and often cannot effectively predict potential consequences of their actions. Some in this category experience developmental challenges, but the majority started something that escalated beyond their control.
- People above 30 are another primary subset of arsonists. This group tends to have more reasons for setting bushfires.
- People who like fire (formerly labelled pyromaniacs)
- Those who are seeking revenge. The two most common revenge fires are anger at one’s employer or former employer and anger towards romantic partners and ex-romantic partners.
- Those on the fringes who are angry at society in general often get a strong sense of power from starting and watching these fires consume everything surrounding them
- Women are typically not associated with the cookie-cutter arsonist. However, Read explains that numerous acts of arson originate from female arsonists.
- People who have a psychological disorder known as Hero Syndrome are among the group of perpetrators above 30. In these instances, the arsonist does not have malicious intent. The ideal scenario is for the arsonist to set a fire and then race in save bystanders and extinguish the flames. Because of their actions to help, they are labelled heroes and shown respect and gratitude.
Regardless of the number of arsonists involved in adding to the ponderous number of bushfires, it is easy to see that the individuals involved in this practice are people who desperately need a variety of help and not just punitive action taken against them.
Here at Lawson Legal, we believe that it is our responsibility to provide comprehensive legal care to all of our clients. While we are by no means suggesting those convicted of setting bushfires and adding to the loss of life and property do not deserve punishment, Lawson Legal feels that these arsonists should receive rehabilitative assistance as well.
What Steps Will Help to Rehabilitate Arsonists?
Clearly, there are various methods of rehabilitation for convicted arsonists. Lawson Legal supports the Australian government’s belief that preventing future fire setting is an overarching goal of attempted reform.
Comprehensive Legal Care with a goal of rehabilitation includes:
- Appropriate fines and sentencing of convicted arsonists
- Examining the home life of convicted juvenile offenders to make sure proper supervision exists
- Educating arsonists about the steep toll bushfires take
- Psychological testing and the treatment plan that will have the greatest impact on recipients.
The team at Lawson Legal wants to do as much as possible to help our communities move forward from this present calamity. We respect other businesses, such as the Online Flooring Store, donating generously to help various bushfire appeals. We too, have lent our support in this manner.
Together, Australia will rebuild in the wake of this devastation caused by the bushfires.