One of the most commonly asked questions in the context of programmes to counter radicalisation or CVE interventions is what works to reduce the risk of radicalisation. Few have focussed their attention on understanding how interventions work. Rather than just assessing whether specific interventions such as ideological support or mentoring are effective, we were more concerned with understanding whether it matters how those interventions are delivered. To do that we searched through nearly 70,000 papers published on case management interventions to counter radicalisation to violence, in seven languages, to understand:
Whether the tools and approaches that are used to counter radicalisation to violence worked;
Whether they are implemented as they are intended to be; and
What factors influence how case management tools and approaches are implemented.
Case management: interventions that offer packages of support tailored to the specific needs of each individual from identification of a potential client through to their exit from a programme.
Tools: methods used to support the case management process such as case conferences or risk assessment processes.
Approaches: intervention logics or theories of change that underpin implementation and delivery. For example, the idea that interventions should be matched to someone’s level of risk and be responsive to their needs.
Case Management Intervention
A case management intervention consists of six specific components.
We didn’t find any eligible studies that examined the effectiveness of case management interventions. However, the evidence base relating to implementation is more robust: 46 eligible studies examined the implementation of case management tools or approaches. These covered a range of different tools (see Table).
Tools and Methods Examined in Included Studies
Outreach work post identification/referral
Client assessment tools
Client assessment and case planning tools
Tailoring intervention services and goals
Practitioner characteristics and approaches
Practitioner supervision and quality assurance
5. Monitoring & Evaluation
Client assessment tools
Case file and case note data
Less structured qualitative data
6. Transition/ Exit
Our analysis identified a number of factors that facilitated the implementation of case management processes. Efficient and effective multi-agency working, supported by strong and transparent relationships between partners was identified as a key facilitator of implementation. So too was practitioner experience and expertise: several studies highlighted how interventions benefited from being able to draw on relevant, interdisciplinary, case management and subject matter expertise.
Efficient and effective multi-agency working, supported by strong and transparent relationships between partners was identified as a key facilitator of implementation.
We also identified a number of potential implementation barriers, most notably public and political factors, and resourcing constraints. The public and political scrutiny placed on counter-radicalisation work can place pressure on practitioners, who operate in specific legislative contexts that influence how they conduct their work. Practitioners may also face economic and time constraints, particularly when interventions are financed through short-term funding.
The research identified a number of factors that can shape how interventions are delivered in different contexts. Examples of these include whether an intervention is voluntary or mandated; the specific regional or national context; and the features of the settings in which the intervention is delivered, for instance whether it operates in a correctional or community context.
There is insufficient evidence to say whether the case management tools and approaches currently in use in the UK and elsewhere are effective. This points to the need for intervention policy to ensure monitoring and evaluation processes are built into programme design.
There is a growing body of evidence highlighting those factors that can facilitate, or create barriers, to the delivery of counter-radicalisation interventions.
Nevertheless, there is a growing body of evidence highlighting those factors that can facilitate, or create barriers, to the delivery of counter-radicalisation interventions. This research is not yet robust. However, it points to three clusters of factors that offer insights into emerging good practice: the role of systems and structures; relational processes; and staff training and support.
1. Systems and structures should:
Be appropriately resourced and financed, so interventions can effectively deliver their services and are sustainable.
Incorporate effective communication processes between multi-agency partners, including agreeing how to share information, especially sensitive information.
Have clear mandates for those working in multi-agency contexts and develop a shared understanding of differing organisational aims.
Identify the sources of subjectivity and inconsistency in the use of tools and approaches used to deliver interventions.
Develop processes enabling different stages of the case management process to inform one another.
2. Relational processes should:
Develop ways of developing trust and building long-term relationships between multi-agency partners.
Identify the power hierarchies that are at work and collaborate with partners to acknowledge and address them.
Address tensions that might emerge around differing organisational goals and priorities, e.g., in relation to rehabilitative and public protection related goals.
Nurture and support relationships between clients and intervention providers or case workers.
3. Intervention providers should be supported through:
Robust training and continuing professional development opportunities that enable practitioners to feel knowledgeable and confident. This should also include mechanisms enabling practitioners to pass their knowledge onto others, capture learning and build institutional memory.
Psycho-social support to enable practitioners to sustain their well-being and allow them to carry out their work in ways which don’t cause them harm.
A broader implication for policy and practice relates to the need to account for differing levels of resources, expertise and risk. Much of the research we found is rooted in the Global North, with conflict-affected contexts, and those characterised by lower levels of CVE-relevant infrastructure attracting lower levels of investment in case management interventions.
Those responsible for enabling programmes in these contexts would benefit from recognising that robust policies and related evidence require investment in counter-radicalisation interventions; case management structures and processes; and in research to understand the process and impact of these programmes.
Acknowledgement: Funded by Public Safety Canada and managed by the Campbell Collaboration.
Sarah Marsden is a Senior Lecturer in the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews. James Lewis is a Research Fellow in the Handa CSTPV at the University of St Andrews.
Cherney, A., & Belton, E. (2021) Evaluating case-managed approaches to counter radicalization and violent extremism: An example of the Proactive Integrated Support Model (PRISM) intervention. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 44(8), 625-645. https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2019.1577016
Lewis, J., Marsden, S., Cherney, A., Zeuthen, M., Bélanger, J. J., Zubareva, A., Brandsch, J., & Lubrano, M. (2023) PROTOCOL: Case management interventions seeking to counter radicalisation to violence: A systematic review of tools and approaches. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 19, https://doi.org/10.1002/cl2.1301
© R.Stevens / CREST 2023