Training in L’Hospitalet on how to work with individuals at risk of radicalisation

L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Spain, May 2021 – As part of its strategy for the prevention of violent radicalisation, which it designed with the support of Efus, the City of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Spain) completed in May a training programme aimed at giving municipal technicians tools to respond to local situations of radicalisation.

The programme was drafted jointly by Efus and the municipality as part of the strategic support provided to L’Hospitalet since the LIAISE (Local Institutions Against Extremism) project, which Efus led between 2014 and 2017.

A key step

Delivered over a period of one year because of delays linked to the pandemic, the training programme enabled the municipal staff to understand the main objectives and aspects of local intervention strategies to prevent or mitigate local radicalisation phenomena: the stakeholders that need to be involved, different intervention techniques, available local resources… Coupled with feedback from other cities engaged in a similar approach, the training gave municipal staff tools to enable them to design their own intervention strategy.

Reaching out to families

The training programme included four theoretical and practical modules. The first one touched on the support given to the families of people at risk of radicalisation and was led by psychologist Håkan Järvå of the Swedish NGO Hjälpkällan, which is specialised in support to sect victims. He presented various tools, including the motivational interviewing technique that can be used to reach out to families.

Identifying motivational factors

The second module was led by Laura Bouzar, Director of the Paris-based Centre for the Prevention of Sectarian Extremism Linked to Islam (Centre de prévention des dérives sectaires liées à l’islam, CPDSI). It covered two topics: the relation between extremism and the motivational factors used by radical groups’ “recruiting agents”, and how to use the Désistance.Pro tool developed by the Bouzar Expertises consultancy. This tool allows to identify on the basis of a pre-established typology the motivations that drive a radicalised individual to adopt their extreme views. The idea here is to flip these motivations and use their positive side in order to guide the individual out of their radicalised posture. For example, some people who consider that radicalisation is a way to fight “evil” can be guided towards humanitarian causes and thus use their energy to “do good”.

Risk factors and vulnerabilities

The third module addressed risk factors and individuals’ vulnerabilities, and how local authorities can contribute to preventing radicalisation and strengthening social cohesion through alternative narrative campaigns. This module was directed by expert Manuel Comeron, coordinator of the local strategy for the prevention of radicalisation of the City of Liège (Belgium).

Interventions with individuals at risk

The fourth and last module, directed by Efus, examined intervention strategies with individuals deemed at risk of radicalising. The Spanish Cities of Ripoll and Terrassa presented their experience and exchanged with the participants, who then discussed the key aspect of L’Hospitalet’s local intervention strategy, which will be included in the city’s overall security and crime prevention plan.

Long-term support

Efus has been accompanying L’Hospitalet in its approach to preventing radicalisation ever since the LIAISE project, in which the Catalan municipality was a partner. L’Hospitalet started to develop a municipal strategy for the prevention of violent radicalisation in the framework of this project, and set up a cross-sectoral working group involving several municipal departments as well as Efus.
This led L’Hospitalet to adopt, in 2018, its strategy for the prevention of violent radicalisation, which includes a series of actions structured around three axes: 1) monitoring and studying the phenomenon in the territory, 2) training local actors, 3) strengthening the resilience of local communities.
As regards axis 1, the city conducted a local audit. It requested Efus’ help for the second axis, i.e., the training of local actors and specifically of the municipal staff who monitor and manage youngsters identified as being at risk of radicalisation as well as their families.
The City of L’Hospitalet is currently working on the third strategic axis, i.e., the resilience of local residents.

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