This CREST guide provides an introduction to Countering Violent Extremism initiatives, setting out the types of interventions and methods used.

Countering Violent Extremism initiatives aim to strengthen the resilience of individuals and communities to the appeal of radicalisers and extremism

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is a relatively new policy area. Although the importance of prevention and reintegration has long been recognised by policymakers and practitioners, until recently, the emphasis has been on coercive forms of counter-terrorism (e.g. arrests) primarily designed to disrupt terrorist plots.

As well as initiatives developed at national and local levels, CVE is now an increasingly prominent feature of the work of international organisations such as the United Nations.

The breadth of CVE raises several issues. International organisations, nation-states, and their agencies interpret CVE in different ways, and many lack a clear definition. This can make it difficult to coordinate and assess the development and delivery of interventions.

More fundamentally, the challenges associated with identifying the complex drivers believed to lead to involvement in extremism mean there is much to learn about when and why CVE interventions are effective.

Although little is known about what works and why, successful programmes appear to share the following features:

  • Strong evidence base supporting programme design and delivery
  • Collaboration between community organisations and statutory agencies
  • Ongoing evaluation and review

This guide details what CVE is and explores the broad landscape of CVE initiatives; what the CVE programmes target; the range of methods used; who delivers the different intervention programmes; and gives an overview of what we know from the evidence so far.

This CREST-associated project was funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Any views expressed are those of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect the UK Government's official policies.