Panel 7: Risk assessment

Chair: Bettina Rottweiler

LT 1, Wednesday 20th, 1430-1630

Nadine Salman

PhD | University College London

Individual Differences in Violent Extremism Risk Assessment

Session: Panel 7: Risk assessment (LT1)

Risk assessment processes relying on professional judgment are widely used to prioritise and manage individuals at risk of engaging in violent extremism. Several factors within these processes may influence decision-making, including training, experience, and individual differences between assessors. This study examines how individual differences, specifically personality characteristics, can affect different aspects of the violent extremism risk assessment process.

This study adopted a quasi-experimental approach in which 458 lay participants evaluated a vignette describing a known violent extremist with the aid of 22 indicators adapted from a risk assessment framework. Participants provided summary risk ratings for the vignette subject’s vulnerability, radicalisation, and violence, as well as measures of confidence, conformity, and adherence to the guidelines provided. Personality scales were subsequently measured using the HEXACO-100 personality inventory.

The findings indicate that personality factors may impact several aspects of the violent extremism risk assessment process, including risk ratings, conformity to other assessors’ judgments, adherence to the instrument used, and inter-rater reliability. This suggests that characteristics of the assessors themselves may introduce a degree of subjectivity and therefore affect the reliability of risk assessment processes, particularly among less experienced assessors.

Co-authors: Professor Paul Gill and Adam Harris, University College London


Lutz Heil & Friederike Sadowski

Researcher | German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA)

RADAR-rechts: Development of a Risk Assessment Tool for the German State Protection Structure

Session: Panel 7: Risk assessment (LT1)

In the prevention and countering of far-right violent extremism, the German police is facing an increasing number of individuals to be assessed in terms of their risk for committing politically motivated life-threatening violence, thereby posing a threat to national security. Against this backdrop, a combination of an actuarial risk assessment approach (RADAR-rechts) as prioritization tool and an in-depth individual case analysis has been installed in order to ensure most effective threat management. RADAR-rechts is aiming at differentiating the group of far-right extremists into individuals that pose a higher risk and therefore need to be individually assessed with priority and into individuals who exhibit merely moderate risk levels. Drawing from a systematic literature review and expert input (semi-structured interviews, Delphi method of expert ratings), the assessment tool consisting of 38 items has been developed for the use by state police officers. Besides the developmental process, we present the validation on a representative sample (n = 121) as well as the implementation within state police agencies. Not only does RADAR-rechts serve as a scientifically sound tool to prioritize potential far-right terrorists, it also enables nationwide systematisation and improves case overview, handling, and assessment practices at the state police level.

Co-authors: Anne Brodführer, Lisanne Breiling, Jonas Knäble and Professor Martin Rettenberger, Centre for Criminology, Germany


Karl-Hans Müllen

Police Officer | German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA)

The Individual Case Analysis for the German State Protection Structure

Session: Panel 7: Risk assessment (LT1)

In the prevention and countering of far right violent extremism, the German police is facing an increasing number of individuals to be assessed in terms of their risk for committing politically motivated life-threatening violence, thereby posing a threat to national security. Against this backdrop, a combination of an actuarial risk assessment approach (RADAR-rechts) as prioritization tool and an in-depth individual case analysis has been installed in order to ensure most effective threat management.

This case analysis is carried out within the framework of a biographical analysis, which is based on a criminal police approach to behavioural analysis. Important methodological principles of the analysis are a team approach (as heterogeneous as possible, usually criminal investigators), a sequential-chronological procedure of hypotheses testing and the elaboration of behavioural patterns. At the end of the analysis, based on the current situation of the person to be assessed, the probabilities of occurrence of different scenarios, including the perpetration of a right-wing motivated life-threatening violence, are compared.

The results of the individual case analysis serve as a basis for the planning of individual risk reducing measures in meetings of the National Counterterrorism Center.


Andrew Silke

Professor | Cranfield University

The Extremism Risk Guidance (ERG22+) factors in terrorism and extremism research: A Rapid Evidence Assessment

Session: Panel 7: Risk assessment (LT1)

A rapid evidence assessment (RAE) was undertaken to examine the research literature on the Extremism Risk Guidance (ERG 22+) factors. The ERG22+ was introduced in 2011 and is the primary risk assessment framework used with terrorist offenders in England and Wales. The aim of the RAE was to (1) evaluate the extent to which existing ERG factors feature in the research literature since 2012, and (2) to identify any significant new and emerging knowledge which may identify additional relevant factors for inclusion in the ERG framework. The REA found that most of the ERG factors have been the focus of substantial research activity between 2012-2020, though some factors received very little research attention. The disregarded factors can be roughly divided into two groups: (1) factors which did receive some notable research attention prior to 2012 but which appear to have declined since; and (2) factors which have never attracted much research attention.  The REA also identified ten research themes with the potential to either form new factors or which could play a significant role in the updating or revision of existing factors.

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