IPS_Innovative Prison Systems, a partner of the MIRAD project, recently participated in an initiative focused on radicalisation prevention in Central Asia in light of the INTERPOL-supported project LEICA.

EU and Kyrgyz experts gathered to share and discuss best practices and recommendations that can contribute to preventing radicalisation and terrorism in prisons. These include risk screening and assessment, prison security, prison intelligence, staff training, and rehabilitation programmes. The event was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from the 29th of November to the 1st of December 2022. The gathering provided an excellent opportunity to share the project's goals and activities, particularly regarding practices and tools to prevent violent extremism in prison, training approaches and core concepts of rehabilitation and reintegration.

At the International Corrections and Prisons Association Annual Conference, IPS_Innovative Prison Systems, a partner of the MIRAD project, had the opportunity to present MIRAD's approach to improving multi-level skills of correctional staff, with a focus on radicalisation prevention. The event was held in Orlando, Florida, from the 23rd to the 28th of October 2022.

The conference provided an excellent opportunity to share the project's goals and activities, particularly the training envisioned within the project and the adaptation of the Individual Radicalisation Screening (IRS) tool.

The project is rolling out a mixed-method training approach, which includes a Train the Trainer course, an e-Learning dedicated to radicalisation prevention, assessment and intervention, and evidence-based radicalisation assessment VR-based training scenarios.

Additionally, MIRAD is implementing updating and adapting the Individual Radicalisation Screening (IRS) tool to be specific and tailored to Islamist and Right-Wing extremism, as well as to gender and usage during rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.

The MIRAD project has been featured in the JUSTICE TRENDS magazine's 9th edition!

This article focuses on the often-neglected role of criminal justice professionals in preventing radicalisation during pre-trial detention. In fact, pre-trial is the first phase where the process of rehabilitation is deemed to start according to the European Commission's Radicalisation Awareness Network Rehabilitation Manual. As no criminal offence has yet been proved, practices such as avoiding labelling and ensuring a non-stigmatised approach (among others) are stressed.

JUSTICE TRENDS is a trilingual (English, Spanish, Portuguese) biannual premium international publication focused on criminal justice, prison and probation services and citizen security matters. Through interviews with prominent personalities in the field of Justice and insightful articles signed by experts, the Magazine’s goal is to inform the corrections community about trends, challenges, best practices, and the latest developments in the execution of justice worldwide. The premium printed version of JUSTICE TRENDS is distributed to Ministers of Justice, Directors-General of Prison and Probation Administrations, decision-makers, law enforcement agents and justice professionals across 120 countries worldwide.

Radicalisation and extremism are serious threats to modern societies. One of the ways of fighting it is prevention through risk assessment and multi-agency cooperation. This can be done by prison staff, probation officers, and civil society organisations, but requires special training. After a year of hard work, the MIRAD project’s Consortium is preparing to open such courses for practitioners.

To ensure the success of preventive and rehabilitative programmes, we need to prepare our practitioners to identify signs of radicalisation or violent extremism, assess the risk of individuals to these phenomena, and understand exit work and intervention principles. The ‘Integrated Approach to Radicalisation for Prison, Probation and Community’ is our answer to this need.

The ‘Integrated Approach’ has three main themes. First of all, it contextualises the phenomenon of radicalisation, enabling an understanding of its terminology, similar concepts, risk factors, and mechanisms. It also explores risk and needs assessment instruments in prison, probation, and community settings. And finally, it details the dynamic security, intervention principles and approaches, and exit programmes.

Additionally, the project offers a ‘Train the Trainer’ course, providing practitioners with the knowledge and tools to disseminate the training received to colleagues and peers within their organisations. This ensures the training of professionals while overcoming some of the obstacles faced.

This second programme addresses the Train-the-Trainer strategy, the essentials of effectively training criminal justice professionals, how to develop, plan and carry out a training session, and the specificities and programmes of distance-based training.

Please check here who can join the training and where to register

The MIRAD training also achieves something that is still lacking in the field of prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism, which is the evaluation of its initiatives and programmes. Namely, it establishes assessment procedures to understand the effectiveness of the training and trainees’ satisfaction.

The training is an e-Learning, self-paced course, available from anywhere, at any time, in five languages. This is very important considering the prison and probation contexts, such as the fact that correctional facilities are usually located in remote sites, thus requiring leaving the workplace or bringing outside trainers.

That is not all that will be prepared in this regard by the MIRAD project. In the future, innovative Virtual Reality training will be available for trainees who successfully completed the e-Learning course. We will talk more about this in the coming months.

The MIRAD Mid-Term Stakeholder Symposium was held on the 28th of September following the Consortium meeting in Poznan, Poland.

Edyta Pazura-Umecka, PPHS, opened the meeting with a warm welcome and an overview of the day's agenda, which was followed by Pedro Liberado (IPS), who provided an overview of the MIRAD project's foundation and approach.

The first panel of the meeting was titled "The ever-changing nature of risk assessment: The need for tailored approaches," and it was moderated by Josep Garcia Coll, FUNDEA. The panel welcomed lively discussions with Nadya Radkovska, Chair of the Council of Europe's Council for Penological Cooperation, who shared the current state of play and findings from the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Prisons Working in RA. She discussed the RAN's perspective on risk assessment, its objectives, some of the most commonly used tools in Europe, and recommendations for future RA-related work.

IPS's Pedro Liberado and Vania Sampaio presented on assessing radicalisation vulnerability, followed by Darina Sarafova, CSD, who discussed the multidimensional approach to risk assessment on radicalisation and Chafiaa Djouadi, MSD, on the topic of gender mainstreaming and risk assessment. 

The event welcomed keynote speeches from Cezary Mecwaldowski, Central Training Center of the Prison Service in Kule, Poland, and Vyacheslav Bosakevych, Department for the Execution Criminal Punishments the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, who shared on obstacles, challenges and best practices in Central-Eastern Europe prison service in relation to VETOs rehabilitation and re-adaptation from the Polish and Ukrainian perspective respectively.

The second panel at the event was well-moderated by Natalia Jarmuek-Troczyska, PPHS, who opened the floor to Magdalena El Ghamari, head of the Cultural Security Laboratory Collegium Civitas, Poland, who spoke on the evolution of the RWE movements in Europe over a 5-year period, followed by Ondrej Kolar, Police Academy of Czech Republic in Prague, Czech Republic, who discussed the signs and challenges in monitoring extremism among inmates.

The third and final panel was moderated by Emilie Gossye, IACFP, and featured Vasileios Giannias and Markos Sangoyan, KMOP, discussing the assessment of NGO trustworthiness and capability. Maria Stoyanova, CSD, and Raquel Venâncio, IPS, presented on improving multi-agency cooperation for successful reintegration of radical offenders, with Stanisław Czerczak, of the CODEX Foundation, an NGO in Poland that raises awareness about radicalisation, closing the session.

Following each panel, event attendees were invited to ask questions, which resulted in fruitful discussions. Overall, the event was a success, with partners leaving re-energised about the project's future activities.

The 3rd Transnational Consortium Meeting was held on September 27th in Poznan, Poland.

The meeting included a study visit to a Poznan detention centre, where consortium members learned about the conditions of the facility as well as the experiences of the detention centre staff. The administration and staff at the detention centre provided reasonable assistance during the visit by answering the visitors' questions and providing them with first-hand in-cell experience. The consortium partners had fruitful discussions with the staff.

Following the prison visit, the project partners met to discuss the project's outcomes, some of the challenges encountered, and the status of pending deliverables and project activities.

The meeting agenda's main topics were on each work package's activities to date:

The progress of activities carried out thus far was lauded. However, some of the challenges raised included recruiting trainees for the training modules and engaging and communicating amongst the partners about the activities being undertaken amongst themselves to the public showcasing the project outcomes via the website news and partners' social channels.

The partners were encouraged to be more proactive and collaborative in the remaining months of the project.

Innovative Prison Systems (IPS) had the chance to present a poster about the MIRAD project at the 22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, which took place in Málaga, Spain, from the 21st to the 24th of September, 2022.

This year's Conference provided an excellent opportunity to further disseminate the project on a European and international scale, as well as network with fellow academics and practitioners to introduce the initiative's goals and activities. The poster's specific goal was to emphasise the importance of effectively implementing radicalisation, disengagement, and reintegration programs. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of developing appropriate risk assessment tools, training prison, probation, and community staff in the field, and promoting collaboration among relevant agencies.

The 22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology - Malaga, Spain.

To this end, MIRAD will develop an evaluation framework for ensuring the trustworthiness and capability of NGOs involved in disengagement and reintegration programmes. Furthermore, the project will extend a previously developed radicalisation risk assessment tool, the Individual Radicalisation Screening (IRS), by creating ideology-specific add-on sheets tailored to right-wing and Islamist extremism. It will also use innovative methods to train staff on how to use the IRS tool and promote collaboration between governmental bodies and credible community organizations working on disengagement and reintegration.

MIRAD, which launched at the beginning of 2022, is now developing its mixed-method training approach, which will provide staff with quality training and learning opportunities on the use of the ideological and gender-specific IRS tool.

The MIRAD project is led by the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) (France), in partnership with IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), Polish Platform Homeland Security (PPHS) (Poland), Euro-Arab Foundation for Higher Studies (Spain), Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) (Bulgaria), KMOP Social Action and Innovation Centre (Greece), Les Militants des Savoirs (France), and the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology (IACFP) (Belgium). The project is co-funded by the EU Commission’s Internal Security Fund – Police.

At the 5th Nordic Conference on Violent Extremism, Innovative Prison Systems, a partner of the MIRAD project, had the opportunity to present MIRAD's inter-institutional collaboration models and protocols for effective disengagement and successful reintegration of VETOs. The conference was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, from September 19th to September 21st.

The conference provided an excellent opportunity to share the project's goals, activities, and preliminary results with colleagues in the field and researchers. On the other hand, it emphasised the importance of interagency collaboration and overcoming barriers to information sharing across agencies in order to successfully counter and prevent violent extremism.

MIRAD is developing and promoting cross-sectoral and interinstitutional collaboration models and protocols to increase collaboration in deradicalisation and disengagement programs among governmental and non-governmental organisations. The project has screened and mapped protocols of national and European collaboration strategies from 24 countries to accomplish this. The project consortium will expand on this research by developing transition collaboration protocol baselines, clarifying the participating organisations in this specific field of intervention, and promoting referral mechanisms, as well as holding a policy roundtable toward protocol establishment.

MIRAD will also create a recommendation paper for the implementation of the European Parliament Directive 2016/680 and beyond.

The MIRAD project is pleased to announce the Mid-Term Stakeholder Symposium, which will be held on September 28th in Poznan, Poland.

The focus will be on "Working towards more efficient rehabilitation and reintegration of VETOs: The critical role of risk assessment and multi-stakeholder collaboration."

Because the MIRAD project is currently being implemented, the consortium partners are pleased to invite all interested representatives of state authorities, law enforcement agencies, practitioners of penitentiary staff, probation authorities, and judicial and non-governmental organisations to attend the Symposium to make new contacts, exchange experience and best practices, and enlist the support of interested partners for future initiatives.

The following working panels will be featured on the event's agenda:

Keynote speeches from the Symposium:

Polish and English will be the working languages and translation will be provided.

The event venue is Novotel Poznan Centrum, Plac Andersa 1, Poznan. The event schedule is available under this link.

We are pleased to announce the Mid-Term Stakeholder Symposium, which will take place on September 28th in Poznan, Poland. The focus will be on "Working towards more efficient rehabilitation and reintegration of VETOs: The critical role of risk assessment and multi-stakeholder collaboration."

The MIRAD project is in the middle of implementation, therefore the consortium partners are pleased to invite all interested representatives of state authorities, law enforcement agencies and practitioners of penitentiary staff, probation authorities, judicial and non-governmental organizations to join the Symposium in order to make new contacts, exchange experience and best practices, enlist the support of interested partners for the next initiatives.

The following working panels will be featured on the event's agenda:
• The ever-changing nature of risk assessment: The need for tailor-made approaches
• Risk screening before risk assessment: Evolution of right-wing radicalisation in Europe
• A multidisciplinary, multistakeholder and cross-sectoral approach: The role of NGOs and CSOs in rehabilitating VETOs

After each working panel, Symposium participants are invited to an active discussion and debate. Polish and English are the working languages (translation will be provided). The event's schedule will soon be released.

This project is co-funded by the European Commission’s Internal Security Fund – Police (ISFP) (GA no. 101035878)