This article summarises some key concepts of one of the last paper published by RAN, titled “Dealing with violent extremist and terrorist offenders: Formalising cooperation among police, prison, probation and prosecution,” co-written by one of our partners Jean-Luc Marret from Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique.

In one of the last papers published by RAN, titled “Dealing with violent extremist and terrorist offenders: Formalising cooperation among police, prison, probation and prosecution” our partner Dr. Jean-Luc Marret explores how the cooperation between the four law enforcing entities police, prison, probation and prosecution is being shaped in EU Member States.

When talking about P/CVE approaches, it has been underlined the importance of cooperation among law enforcing entities such as police, prison and probation. Recently, the importance of prosecution has been noticed at European level, considered to be an inevitable fourth pillar in investigating, sentencing and the rehabilitation for violent extremism and terrorist offenders.

“Police, prison, probation and prosecution need each other, they constitute a reciprocal system of mutual dependency around the investigation and sentencing of violent extremism and terrorist offender and eventually around rehabilitation of these persons too”, it states.

Cooperation among such “4P” entities started in a completely informal way, with people engaging in contact with each other motivated by their professional needs, for example to obtain certain kinds of information. Over time, with the growing number of diverse multi-agency cooperation systems in Europe, it came clear that a there was a need for more formalised cooperation procedures.

In 2016, the European Parliament and the EU Council to design the Directive (EU) 2016/68, to implement a national legislation regulating the obligations, limitations and possibilities for 4P cooperation, while guaranteeing the right of prosecute or investigated persons in the field of P/CVE.

According to Jean-Luc Marret and his co-author, this formalisation implies a step forward in how law enforcing entities work together while dealing with violent extremism for four reasons. First of all, the implementation of standardised working procedures allow a better circulation of information and intelligence as well as a better organised common knowledge base. In other words, it allows a strategic alignment of the 4P work and the avoidance of gaps and overlap while dealing with former violent extremism. It also increases the LEAs capacity for synthesis and analysis and finally, it reduces the risk of omitting a sensitive individual case. All in all, the collaboration helps to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

Although 4P cooperation is considered to do more good than harm, it clearly presents some challenges. Specifically, three have been identified in the RAN paper. Firstly, the new legislations takes time to be effective, as professionals have learn to how to operate within the new framework, especially in terms of confidentiality of information/intelligence sharing, protection of individuals’ rights, their privacy or access to personal collected data. Secondly, formalised procedures entail the risk of delayed responsiveness because following procedures takes time. Thirdly, mark information tools could cause a sort of over-activity at operation staff level with potential backlash effects.