Policy Recommendations and Improved Communication Tools for Law Enforcement and Security Agencies Preventing Violent Radicalisation (PERICLES)

About the project

The number of politically motivated crime in Germany, as collected by state police authorities, shows a steady growth. A report by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community demonstrated that the types of crimes most frequently committed under politically motivated crime are related to propaganda offences, which account to more than half of all its offences.* Hate crimes have also seen an increase compared to previous years including crimes with a xenophobic and anti-Semitic background. Since the turn of the century, a growing number of terrorist-related incidents have happened, recently emphasised by the Paris attacks (2015), Berlin Christmas market attack (2015) and Barcelona attacks (2017). The threat of terrorism is felt throughout Europe producing a feeling of insecurity and, at the same time, increasing political polarisation. 

A further challenge to Europe’s security situation is incidents of European fighters and their families returning from Syria and Iraq, many of whom currently sit in Kurdish-run detention centres and prisons across Syria and Iraq. Although official numbers are contested, there is a serious perceived security challenge with reintegrating (former) radicalised individuals from these regions, both adults and children. This reintegration process presents a very current challenge all over Europe giving the simultaneous integration of arriving migrants with very different cultural and political views. In times of a changed political discourse, the need has been recognised for an improved cross-border and multi-actor cooperation between intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and social welfare organisations across Europe. Member States have also been encouraged to tackle factors that lead to increased vulnerability and social exclusion of groups, especially by the creation of support networks for returnees and families affected by racialisation.

* Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community. (2018). Politisch Motivierte Kriminalität im Jahr 2018: Bundesweite Fallzahlen. Retrieved from 

Work flow

The overall aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive approach to prevent violent radicalisation and extremism by supporting the capabilities of law enforcement agencies. To achieve this, the project has several work packages.

The University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven is in charge of the overall scientific coordination of PERICLES, leading aside from that, work package one and contributes input to all project-related work packages.

Work package one provides a workup of exiting counter-radicalisation policies and prevention programmes to provide a holistic understanding of prevention in selected European countries. A critical review is performed on existing prevention tools and policies related to violent radicalisation in Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. A standardised survey was used to gather information of programmes and projects from selected EU countries. Together with the German Police University, a specialised survey of counter-radicalisation programmes was performed in German speaking countries, namely Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The results of both quantitative surveys were analysed with the specific aim to identify potential gaps in preventive measures. Professionals in the field of counter-radicalisation were interviewed and presented results from the surveys to explore simultaneously a richer understanding of themes and on-going challenges in prevention.

Work package two is led by Arq Psychotrauma Expert Group. Needs assessment questionnaires were conducted to assess the needs of law enforcement agencies in the context of their counter-radicalisation efforts. The survey examined how they radicalisation was experienced during the course of their work, whether they felt equipped to deal with this problem, how they experienced contact with families who have concerns about radicalisation, and what types of tools and materials could be most usefully developed to support their work. To get a full insight and deeper understanding of processes of radicalisation, families of radicalised persons and current and former extremists were interviewed in Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and France. Further interviews were conducted with convicted terrorists currently in detention and rehabilitation centres across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Thales Group is in charge of work package three. The interaction between counter-radicalisation actors were modelled including how they sought when tacking radicalisation scenarios. These radicalisation scenarios illustrated particularly trajectories of actors in their efforts towards the prevention of radicalisation into violent extremism. Case studies were designed to demonstrate the stakeholders that were likely to be relevant within a counter-radicalisation context and to explore the specific needs of each stakeholder.

The University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven is also in charge of overseeing the development of five prevention tools targeting certain aspects of counter-radicalisation. These tools include an updated Cyber Detection System to detect and analyse metadata and violent and radicalised speech on Twitter; Multi-Agency Vulnerability Assessment tool that acts as a structured professional judgment for use by multi-actor collaborations who are responsible for identifying vulnerabilities of certain individuals; Family Information Portal that assists families in dealing with problems of radicalisation and to empower families with knowledge and expertise around the topic; Skills and Competencies Tool that is dedicated to the advancement of skills and competencies for practitioners (Train-the-Trainers) in the field of the prevention of (violent) radicalisation; and an Enhanced Platform that provides an interactive mapping process of relevant actors involved in the prevention of violent extremism, and a hosting platform for the four previously named prevention tools. 

TNO is in charge of work package five. The validation of the five PERICLES tools are conducted by engaging end users. The purpose of such workshops is to assess whether the PERICLES tools address practitioners’ needs and whether they can be implemented in national policies.

Universidad Miguel Hernández is responsible for leading work package six.  Activities related to ethics, law and security are strictly handled in Pericles. The most significant legislation affecting radicalisation has been extensively reviewed including the evolution of legal counter-terrorist instruments as well as those related to hate crimes and discrimination offences from perspectives of the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. Ethicists from the University of Warwick work directly with potential sensitives reach area of the project. Under their direction, an internal security board, external advisory board, and an external ethics advisory board have been established to form an experienced panel of experts to provide ethical and legal consultation. Under this work package, gender monitored is performed by the Trinity College of Dublin to contribute gender aspects to counter-radicalisation, such as preparation of gender sensitivity and awareness training for users of the Pericles tools.

Work package seven is led by Trinity College Dublin. External communication and dissemination strategies are formulated here that seek to not only engage PERICLES with end users and relevant stakeholders in counter-radicalisation, but also to develop long-lasting networks with EU projects involved in counter-radicalisation and counter-terrorism.

Project publications

Phelps, M., Karatrantos T., Theofilopoulos V., & Kudlacek D. (2019). Law Enforcement Responses to Violent Extremism in Greece. European Law Enforcement Research Bulletin, 18.

Kudlacek, D. & Jukschat, N. &. Rook, L. (2018). Zur Entstehung von gewaltbereiten Extremismus. Ergebnisse einer Aufarbeitung einschlägiger Biografien. In: INDES Zeitschrift für Politik und Gesellschaft. Digitalisierung. Heft 2, 2018, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, S. 48-60.

Jukschat, N. & Kudlacek, D. (2018). Neue Medien und gewaltorientierter Islamismus. Stand der Forschung und offene Fragen. In: Glaser, Michaela/Frank, Anja & Herding, Maruta (Hrsg.): Gewaltorientierter Islamismus im Jugendalter. Perspektiven aus Jugendforschung und Jugendhilfe. 2. Sonderband Sozialmagazin, Weinheim Basel: Beltz Juventa, S. 52-61.

Kudlacek, D., Phelps, M., Castro Toledo, F., Miró Llinares, F., Ehimen, E., Purcell, S., Görgen, T., Hadjimatheou, K., Sorell, T., Halilovic-Pastuovic, M., Karatrantos, T., Lortal, G., Rooze, M., Young, H., & van Hemert, D. (2018). Towards a Holistic Understanding of the Prevention of Violent Radicalisation in Europe. European Law Enforcement Research Bulletin, 17, 9-17.

Ortuño, R. B., Toledo, F. J. C., García, J. O. P., & Gómez, N. R. (2018). "May I offend you?" An experimental study on perceived offensiveness in online violent communication and hate speech. International e-journal of criminal sciences, (12), 2.

Jukschat, N. & Kudlacek, D. (2017). Ein Bild sagt mehr als tausend Worte? Zum Potenzial rekonstruktiver Bildanalysen für die Erforschung von Radikalisierungsprozessen in Zeiten des Internets – eine exemplarische Analyse. In: Hohnstein, Sally/Herding, Maruta (Hrsg.): Digitale Medien und politisch-weltanschaulicher Extremismus im Jugendalter. Erkenntnisse aus Wissenschaft und Praxis. Halle (Saale), S. 59-82. Abrufbar unter: DJI Sammelband.

Kudlacek, D. & Jukschat, N. (2017). Strategien und Verfahren zur Messung von Radikalisierung. Neue Kriminalpolitik, 29, 379-387.