A report by the new Counter Terrorism Preparedness Network on anti-radicalisation provides a range of key actions for cities and communities.

The ‘Key Themes’ and resulting action points are:

Involving Communities in Integration Initiatives

  • Community cohesion and social integration provide potential solutions to polarisation and radicalisation.
  • Recommendation 1:
    • City policy makers should engage with and include community leaders in framing the integration process.
    • Engage in practice not just name with appropriate and representative community leaders.
    • Develop a shared view of the extent to which integration is desired within a wider context of peaceful co-existence.
    • Avoid tokenism.
    • Work to ensure equal representation.
    • Provide space for communities to retain their own cultural identities whilst living within a diverse community.
  • Recommendation 2:
    • Cities should support self-integration between communities by challenging inaccurate perceptions and creating platforms for accurate understandings of differing communities.
    • In order to improve levels of integration, communities need to have an accurate understanding of each other. When this is achieved at the outset city policy can help remove the barriers to self-integration between communities.

Considering the Non-Minority Viewpoint

  • An integration process should account for all members of society, failure to do so can alienate a wider population or lead to groups feeling stigmatised or targeted.
  • Recommendation 3:
    • Cities should frame policies within the wider context of diverse multicultural city inhabitants, including consideration of groups not directly affected.
    • When designing policy initiatives aimed towards particular groups within a city, they should be framed within the wider context. Engaging with groups not directly affected by an intervention allows for a better understanding of the wider context.

Displacement of Issues

  • Non-minorities feeling left behind is just one example of how policy decisions designed at improving the lives of one part of the community can negatively impact the perceptions in another.
  • It should be said that there is rarely a perfect solution, although one of the many goals of city leadership is to attempt to balance these decisions.
  • Recommendation 4:
    • Cities should proactively consider the extent to which any given policy may displace rather than address polarisation.
    • Consider using a 360-degree perspective to assess all aspects of their various communities and how they may be positively or negatively impacted by cohesion, integration or counter-terrorism policy.

Mapping Social Sentiment

  • When used in line with other forms of community engagement and in a city-systems approach, mapping social sentiment may help avoid displacing problems as cities develop policies in tandem with the views of their inhabitants.
  • Recommendation 5:
    • Cities should consider mapping social sentiment to monitor community polarisation and hate crimes and shift policy in tandem with social sentiment.
    • This can be useful as an early warning system to monitor and combat polarisation and hate crimes.
    • Moreover, it can allow policy to shift in tandem with sentiment, limiting grievances through good governance.

The Unintended Consequences of Policies

  • Recommendation 6:
    • Cities should consider the unintended consequences of policies through a city-systems approach that weights policy areas to assess whether a decision is more or less likely to influence polarisation.
    • This should be aligned with adaptation of frameworks such as the Resilience Framework or development of tailored equality impact assessments. Doing so may reduce the displacement of problems and unintended consequences to originally well-intentioned policies.

Designing Policy Holistically

  • By developing a matrix of policy areas, and the extent to which they could improve or worsen polarities in public sentiment and community sensitivity, cities will be able to narrow their field of focus to areas in which results are more likely.

Normalising the Discussion

  • The vulnerability of individuals or communities to radicalisation should be raised in policy discussion but done so in such a way that it is not considered unusual or suggest any failure on the part of the policymaker.
  • Recommendation 7:
    • Cities should work towards normalising the discussion of polarisation, isolation and radicalisation.
    • To normalise these areas, they should become part of the everyday decision-making process.
    • The process of normalising will take time but policymakers should consider how they can support the inclusion and normalisation of this discussion at all levels of the society including in public, private and third-sector organisations.

Multi-Agency Working, Information Sharing & Consensus of Terminology

  • Multi-agency working is important in successful anti-radicalisation initiatives.
  • Information sharing between agencies is considered a challenge and a particular difficulty when information needs to cross national borders.
  • Having a legal framework in place to share information freely while considering civil liberties and the implications on privacy would be of great benefit to anti-radicalisation initiatives.
  • Terminology needs to be commonly understood and not left to interpretation.
  • Recommendation 8:
    • Cities should support multi-agency working by investing in further research into IT and legal frameworks for sharing information city wide and across borders. Extremist views are becoming more internationally coherent so those combating such views must also become internationally coherent.
    • Cities should support multi-agency working by developing a consensus of terminology among key partners. Terminology has been a constant issue in the field and cities should consider how this barrier may be overcome.