In January 2015, France was faced with terrorist attacks. This had a lot of effect on the Probation Service. They have worked hard to set up a deradicalisation programme for offenders that committed terrorist related crimes or other offenders with a high risk of becoming radicalised. Virginie Nouaille, Assistant Director of the French Probation Service, explains how they work with radicalised offenders and how their deradicalisation programme works.  

What changed within your organisation after the first terrorist attacks? 

We set up special offices nationally, that are specialised in doing the risk assessment of violent extremism and radicalisation. We divided the offenders in two types. A.M.T., these are offenders that are in some way connected to a terrorist organisation and the second type we named DCSR, people that are very likely to become radicalised. This are always offenders of common and crimes and haven’t been connected to any radicalised activity in the past. Currently, three radicalisation assessment offices are set up in the Paris district. Two more will be opened somewhere else.

How do you do the risk assessment of radicalised offenders?

We use the same tools as we did before, but we did extend them with additional subjects. We also trained our probation officers to work with RBR theory, the good lives model and VERA2R as well as other psycho-criminological tools. Teams are also trained to gain knowledge about politics, group influence and religion. The risk assessment is done in cooperation with the prison departement. They look at the behaviour of the offender in prison, the visits they get and if they build up relationships with other prisoners. The organisation set up a report to send to the judge, which includes information about the risk the offenders is for the society and recommendations about the rehabilitation process.

During the Radicalisation Expert Meeting in Brussels you told the participants that you have set up a deradicalisation programme. How does it work? 

We set up a programme after the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in France in January 2015. The programme is for offenders that are convicted of terrorist crimes or offenders of common and crimes and haven’t been connected to any radicalised activity in the past, but form a high risk of becoming radicalised. They have to follow these programmes during their detention and probation period, but the process is voluntarily. The groups that follow these programmes exist of a maximum of twelve people that are carefully picked out by the probation officers. The programme is quite long, the offenders should follow 27 sessions of two hours. All the sessions have different topics, like violence, membership and identity or victims.

Click on the link for an overview of all the programme sessions.

Do you cooperate with other countries when it comes to the work with radicalised offenders?

Yes we are setting up a research programme together with Italy and Belgium. Each country is going to test the strategy that we set up on the two types of radicalised offenders.

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