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I’m pleased to be chairing an event in London organised by the Forgiveness Project on 28 April where the focus will be on how former extremists can use their own experiences to help tackle violent extremism.

Sharing their own personal journeys of moving away from extremism will be Tony McAleer, a former white supremacist and former organiser of the White Aryan Resistance in Canada and Hadiya Masieh, a former Islamic extremist who was recruited by Hizb ut-Tahrir radicals, until the 7/7 bombings changed her perspective.

I’m a passionate believer that the stories of former extremists are a credible counter-message to extremist propaganda and I’m working to create a global resource of testimonies through my work at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and via the AVE network we run there.

More information about the event and tickets are available here.

The Norweigan Central Evaluation Commission has published its review into police handling of the violent attacks of 22 July 2011 in Norway, which resulted in 77 deaths and many injuries. The English translation of the summary can be found here.

The main findings and recommendations are:

  • Notification by red alert: The police need to review and improve their alert system.
  • Situation reporting: The police need to improve situation reporting skills, focusing on verifying information, making sure the information is relevant for the superior lead, and highlighting information that is new since the last situation report.
  • Organisation, direction and coordination: There is mixed capability from area to area to respond to an event of this kind, and some areas had not updated their response plans. There is a need to consider introducing requirements as to minimum police staffing and skills, and there should be more attention on district-to-district peer support. The police needs to introduce a nation-wide emergency communications system due to communications problems experienced during the event, and several other IT and communications systems should be revamped. Police need to provide more training in incident management. There was good coordination between police and other partners on the ground. Overall, the Commission finds that the police carried out their duties as promptly as possible under the circumstances.
  • Management of evacuees and family/friends: Family and friends have been positive about the support they received from police in the immediate aftermath of the event, and centres for evacuees and family/friends were rapidly set up. But confusion was caused because several hotline numbers were released, people were confused about which one to use, and cooperation with the public health services caused frustration.
  • Public relations: There was confusion about which police district was handling press and media enquiries, and the Commission recommends that where more than one police district is affected by an incident the National Police Directorate should play a greater role in coordination. More user-friendly software is needed for posting information on the public police website, and insufficient attention was devoted to public relations challenges in the restoration-of-normality phase.
  • Health and safety: The Commission recommends that local Health and Safety plans be developed further.

I have co-written a piece in a new report about the ‘new radical right’ in Europe, which analyses latest trends among violent and non-violent right wing movements. There are excellent pieces by Vidhya Ramalingam from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Dr Matthew Goodwin of Nottingham University. The piece I have co-written pulls out some of the key policy recommendations.

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