Assessing the Risk of Extremist Violence

Assessing the Risk of Extremist Violence

A new CREST report published today provides detail on several frameworks that are used to assess risks of extremist violence.

Psychologists have been assessing violent patients or prisoners for their risk of re-offending for many years. However, the recent endeavour, of assessing the risk of individuals carrying out a first act of violence in the community, is altogether more difficult, as most approaches are predicated on the understanding that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

most approaches are predicated on the understanding that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

Without evidence of past violence, such assessments are informed either by intelligence that an individual is connected to a terrorist network, possibly engaged in an extremist ideology and/or potentially involved in terrorist plotting, or is nursing an idiosyncratic grievance and possibly making targeted threats of harm that may or may not be seriously intended.

More worryingly, they may not be declaring intent at all, at least not publicly, thereby successfully remaining under the radar and preserving the element of surprise.

Development of frameworks

This directory by Monica Lloyd has been assembled from frameworks that have been developed in recent years to assess aspects of extremist violence, a term used here to encompass terrorist violence that is framed by ideology and targeted violence that is framed by idiosyncratic beliefs.

Each of these frameworks was developed in a slightly different context, and optimised for a different purpose and group of users. The frameworks covered are: Extremist Risk Guidance (ERG22+), developed by the UK’s Prisons and Probation Service; Islamic Radicalization (IR-46), used by the Dutch National Police; Identifying Vulnerable People (IVP), developed out of open-source material on violent extremists; Multi-Level Guidelines (MLG Version 2), used in North America and Europe; Terrorist Radicalization Assessment Protocol (TRAP-18) in use since 2015 in Canada, the US and Europe and Violent Extremism Risk Assessment Version 2 Revised (VERA-2R), available in Dutch, English, French and German.

These frameworks conform, to a greater or lesser extent, to an approach that structures professional judgment from a number of potential indicators of risk derived from clinical and correctional research and practice, with the exception of the IVP framework that consists of a checklist for the assessment of escalating behaviours that open source research suggests correspond with more serious intent and/or imminence of attack.

Extremism Risk Assessment: A Directory (Full Report) coverNone of these frameworks claims to be able to straightforwardly predict future violence. In accordance with good practice in risk assessment, most claim instead to be able to identify behaviours or scenarios that signal when and in what circumstances an attack is more likely, in order to prevent it through appropriate action.

Each is presented as a work in progress, within a standard template that allows for some comparison across frameworks, together with an appraisal of their strengths and limitations, informed by the comments of peer reviewers and users.

To download, read and share this report, find it here.


These resources are produced from the Actors and Narratives programme, funded by CREST. To find out more information about this programme, and to see other outputs from the team, visit the Actors and Narratives programme page here.

As part of CREST’s commitment to open access research, these resources are available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence. For more details on how you can use our content see here.

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