On Tuesday 17 October 2023, members of the Expert Group on Violent Extremism had their annual meeting to discuss the latest developments and changes as well as the current state of play in their jurisdictions. The meeting that welcomed three new members from France, Finland and Switzerland took place online.
Expert Group on Violent Extremism is one of the groups that have been working together for more than 7 years. The last meeting which took place in March 2023 in Cologne, Germany, identified the issues that have been crucial and high on the agenda of individual jurisdictions – e.g. fragmentation of the VE scene, countries with no experience working with VE offenders vs countries with a large number of prisoners waiting for their release, online radicalisation and recruitment, training of staff at different stages of the educational process, the need to work with the community, families, schools, etc. This meeting confirmed that the ever-changing landscape of radicalisation and violent extremism as well as polarisation is high on the agenda of probation agencies as well as others working in the criminal justice field. Current situation e.g. general elections in EU MS with populist parties winning the larger share, ongoing war in Ukraine, Israel-Hamas war that again increased the threat of terrorist attacks with many countries tightening security and preventative measures, online radicalisation and efforts to recruit new members as well as lack of direct experience working with VE offenders in each jurisdiction varies, yet the threat posed by it calls for probation agencies to work towards initiating and implementing training programs for its staff, having a specialized staff for working with VE offenders, increased multi-agency cooperation and capacities for each jurisdiction etc.
The members of the expert group voted for a new chair for the upcoming two-year period. Mr. Daniel Wolter from DBH – Fachverband für Soziale Arbeit, Strafrecht und Kriminalpolitik e.V., Germany, will take up this role. The group that currently has members representing Sweden, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Romania, and Germany has welcomed new members from France, Finland and Switzerland. The action (work) plan for 2024-2026 will be developed and discussed during the upcoming face-to-face meeting that is scheduled to take place in March 2024.
During the meeting two presentations were delivered: the first one by Prof. Ioan Durnescu from the University of Bucharest on the overview of programs dedicated to deradicalisation and the second one by Ms. Aoife Gallagher and Mr. Ciaran O’Connor from the Insitute for Strategic Dialogue on the research that had been carried out in Ireland on disinformation and its landscape in relation to VE.
Report: to be published soon.