Fifty experts and professionals in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) gathered to explore and debate the critical role of multi-agency cooperation in achieving successful rehabilitative outcomes.
Rehabilitation is an overarching goal for criminal justice systems across Europe and beyond. However, rehabilitating extremists is challenging, both in prison and probation contexts, ultimately having clear implications for the community.
Exchanging knowledge on how to best guide rehabilitative efforts in P/CVE requires multi and inter-agency cooperation.
To discuss and share strategies for implementing the desired levels and framework of cooperation, fifty experts and practitioners participated in the fourth Transnational Thematic Workshop (TTW) in the scope of HOPE – Holistic Radicalisation Prevention Initiative. This event titled “The key importance of multi-agency cooperation in P/CVE towards successful rehabilitation” took place online on the 11th of March 2022.
The event targeted Europe’s Southern, Eastern and Balkan regions, focusing on countries enrolled in the project’s consortium (Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia), but engaged participants from a total of eight countries.
During this workshop, the Director of the Slovenian Probation Administration, Dr Danijela Mhrar Prelić, and the Head of the Slovenian Counter-Terrorism and Violence Department, Albert Černigoj, illustrated how multi-agency cooperation shouldn’t be the last step but a priority in the P/CVE field to achieve successful rehabilitative outcomes.
They provided insights on the first violent extremist offender case in Slovenia, explaining its management by the criminal justice system. The experts highlighted the involvement of different agencies in the process, although cooperation between them has faced some difficulties.
Counter-terrorism expert Albert Černijog explained the country’s police procedures for taking the suspected offender into custody.
The Slovenian Probation Administration leader, Dr Prelić, echoed concerns about the lack of awareness and communication among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, hindering proper case management.
From the Slovenian experience with this criminal case involving an extremist individual, these experts reinforce the need to cooperate, share information among agencies, and develop helpful knowledge and adequate skills for relevant stakeholders.
They also highlighted the urgent requirement for multi-disciplinary teams as a fundamental step to holistically understanding the needs of radicalised and extremist individuals, resulting in better interventions.
Continuing the topic, senior consultant Attila Juhász and Dr Emanuel Banutai, an expert in radicalisation and violent extremism from the Slovenian Probation Administration, shared a very fruitful presentation entitled “A regional practical perspective on the rehabilitation of R/VETOs in the prison (and probation) setting”.
Attila Juhász shared some practical and thought-provoking insights on the needs of prison systems to successfully handle and rehabilitate radicalised offenders. In his view, the prison system is unable to solve the problem by itself.
He explained several system needs, stressing the crucial role of front-line staff, who should be better trained.
Additionally, he spoke on the need for multi-disciplinary teams in the prison setting to include different stakeholders (e.g., educational professionals, psychologists, and social workers). This would ensure the rehabilitative process’ continuity in probation and communitarian settings.
Dr Banutai shared some specific issues the Balkan region faces, focusing primarily on the Slovenian context. He presented some challenges, namely the significant workload prison and probation staff have to cope with and their very limited training on P/CVE.
He reinforced how the P/CVE work should be holistic, following a whole-of-society approach, combining governmental and community stakeholders to achieve rehabilitation and reintegration successfully.
The workshop allowed for relevant and thought-provoking debates on how to bridge the gaps between prison and community-based rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for violent extremist offenders. With the participants dynamically engaged through smaller break-out rooms, the discussion led to the exchange of good practices implemented, highlighting the practical challenges and potential solutions.
Details and presentations of this workshop are available at the HOPE Radicalisation Network.
By joining HOPE’s network, members can stay abreast of all initiatives related to the project, access hundreds of relevant resources in the field of radicalisation and violent extremism prevention, and connect and network with dozens of experts worldwide.