Guardia Civil, October 2017
INSPEC2T has the potential to support Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in addressing a variety of community based issues. In this blog article, one of INSPEC2T’s LEA partners – Guardia Civil, discusses the potential for INSPEC2T to be applied to tackle radicalization and violent extremism.
Community policing (CP) is clearly a way to fight against radicalization and violent extremism that can lead to terrorism. Most advanced countries have developed specific “countering violent extremism” strategies (CVE) to address this phenomenon. Strategies such as the British “Prevent”, introduced in 2003 and revised in 2011, or the US “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” focus on interaction with communities and improving trust and commitment to them, forging engagement. For these purposes, communication is the fundamental tool. In any case CP is not the panacea; it would be an additional measure within an integral policy.
CP has as its main objectives, in the fight against violent extremism, the generation of trust with the communities, their engagement and empowerment and the joint participation in the solution of security problems. The “new generation” CP proposed by the INSPEC2T project, based on the use of new technological applications combined with the physical proximity of the police agents, can contribute to overcoming some of the criticisms and limitations of the current CVE strategies.
In an increasingly digital environment, new technologies generate new opportunities for citizens and LEAs, as long as it is accompanied by the necessary media and information literacy (MIL). New technologies are demanded by citizens as a way to improve their relationships with their Governments and public services (low cost, simplicity and no needed mobility). This discipline, MIL, is also a support for the most affected communities, as has been pointed out by Cohen and Blanco (Media and Information Literacy to Tackle Social Polarization in Europe, pp. 299, MILID Yearbook 2016).
Radicalization is a social phenomenon, which is developed in socialization environments, in addition to the support of the internet and social networks, such as European cities. The fight against violent radicalization requires the participation of all sectors of society: citizens, communities, interest groups, municipal services, neighborhood communities, teachers, social and emergency services, NGOs, etc. For these reasons it is a clear subject that can be approached through community police. INSPEC2T, as a CP model and tool, is being tested in five European cities, using different scenarios and use cases. All of them have in common that they are dealing with daily problems that happen in our cities, contacting individuals and interest groups with the police in order to solve them.
- Allows a change in focus, from the current strategies, centered on communities and minorities (ethnic and religious), which is leading to stigmatization and pre-criminalization of them, or at least it is being seen as a grievance. INSPEC2T does not put the focus on specific communities: it can be used with different demographic sectors (young people, women, entrepreneurs) and transversal subjects (social services, emergency services, NGOs, parents´ associations, merchants’ associations, neighborhood communities…). INSPEC2T contributes to progress towards a comprehensive approach and non-stigmatizing management in CVE.
- The segments and sectors pointed out offer links and connections with other social problems (gender violence, inequality, school failure, marginalization and ghettos), which allows a “problem solving approach”, contributing again to the development of integral policies, the only way to be effective in CVE.
- Offers technology for communication and interaction with target groups and sectors through their leaders or influencers, providing low-cost cascading communication with high potential dissemination and engagement impact.
- Can be used to tackle all kinds of religious or ideological radicalization. When CVE strategies are pointing out a needed engagement with communities they are clearly talking about Jihadism and Muslim communities. With a “problem solving approach”, supported on new technologies, it is easier to identify other radicalization processes with different causes but potential impacts.
- It allows homogenizing official messages to be sent, that will not only depend on the style of the police agent of proximity. It allows messages and alerts to be sent and the creation of the much needed counter-narrative to the messages of groups like Daesh.
- It also contributes to training policemen on the socio-cultural aspects of communities, through the interaction generated in this problem-oriented approach.
- It becomes an ideal tool to combat hate crimes, since it does not only serve for reporting of crimes, but also for communication, information, resolving doubts, or expressing fears.
- It is a fast and low-cost tool to generate shared understanding of the threat, a common threat that affects the whole society and that must be fought with a strong participation and contribution from our civil society.
In short, INSPEC2T can be an effective and efficient tool to increase citizens’ commitment and participation in the fight against radicalization and violent extremism, connecting citizens, communities and interest groups with the police. The technological environment provided by INSPEC2T allows simple, immediate, continuous and secure bidirectional communication.
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