Leuven, Belgium, October 2016 – More than 30 European local practitioners and experts took part in the seminar “How to assess the impact of preventive actions against radicalisation?”, organised in Leuven, Belgium on 11-12 October in the framework of the LIAISE 2 project. This is the second LIAISE 2 European seminar after the one held in Bordeaux (France), in May, on “European cities facing radicalisation: communication and counter-narratives”.
Opened by Louis Tobback, Mayor of Leuven, who stressed the importance for cities to be involved in European networks promoting the exchange of practices, this meeting focused on assessing the impact of preventive initiatives against radicalisation in different domains of local action.
It was also an opportunity to welcome the new LIAISE 2 partners: Leuven (BE), Barcelona (SP), Charleroi (BE), The Hague (NL) and the Val d’Oise Departmental Council (FR). Furthermore, Efus presented the recently released publication Preventing and Fighting Radicalisation at the Local Level, which is one of the main outcomes of the first LIAISE project (2014-2016). ”.
The objective of the seminar was to give the LIAISE 2 partners insights on how to evaluate the impact of their local preventive actions, in particular those designed and implemented in the framework of the project. Different European experts and local practitioners working in the field of policy assessment of counter-radicalisation initiatives contributed to the two-day workshop.
Jessika Soors, who is leader of a RAN Local working group and also advisor on radicalisation and polarisation at the Belgian city of Vilvoorde, stressed the importance of basing the evaluation on a multi-agency approach, and pointed to the complexity of evaluating preventive actions. She added that assessing a “non event” is a particularly challenging, and especially analysing qualitative data.
Tanya Silverman, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, presented the methodology they use to evaluate the impact and the results of their counter-narrative initiatives. Counter-narrative campaigns must be monitored and evaluated while they are running and at the end, which can be done locally and is affordable, said Ms Silverman.
On the second day of the seminar, Julian Reinelt, of the Violence Prevention Network of Germany, presented their work in de-radicalisation and disengagement in prison. He emphasised the need for internal and external evaluation not only to measure the result of the interventions but also to gain support and, crucially, funding, from public authorities.
Olivier Vanderhaeghen, Prevention Manager at the municipality of Molenbeek, Belgium, presented the prevention initiatives taken in this commune of Brussels and how they are evaluated, depending of the domain of intervention and the characteristics of each case.
A group discussion was held after each of the four interventions, and individual inputs were given to the project partners on the local action they are developing in the framework of the LIAISE 2 project.
This European seminar was the second in a series of five to be organised between now and the end of 2017 as part of the LIAISE 2 project, which is led by Efus and co-financed by the European Commission. The project also delivers training sessions to the partner local authorities and helps them develop innovative initiatives to prevent radicalisation locally. The LIAISE 2 (Local Institutions Against Extremism) project gathers 33 European partners, including 22 cities and regions.
A conference report summarising the key points of the speeches and debates will be available shortly.