- Publication date
- 15 February 2022
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
While the presence of violent extremist and terrorist offenders (VETOs) in prison is not a new phenomenon, their numbers have been growing in recent years and are currently at a 20-year high of over 1 400 such detainees. The rate of reoffending amongst VETOs is low (2-7 %) compared to “regular” offenders (40-60 % worldwide).
However, cases of recidivism amongst extremist offenders can have dramatic consequences and cause a relative uproar in the media and in society. Recent attacks such as those in London in November 2019 and in Vienna in November 2020, carried out in both cases by recently released terrorist convicts, have revealed possible challenges and knowledge gaps.
The RAN cross-cutting thematic event that took place on 6 October 2021 brought together policymakers, researchers and practitioners from different EU Member States (MSs) to assess the potential threats posed by released VETOs, develop targeted recommendations on how to improve continuity between prison, probation and reintegration, and identify follow-up actions to prevent recidivism and re-engagement.
Key outcomes from the meeting indicate the need to:
- find a balance between the rehabilitation of VETOs and the aim of public safety;
- consider the detention period an opportunity in the rehabilitation and reintegration of VETOs;
- conduct risk management instead of risk assessment, as part of a broader long-term perspective model;
- enhance the adequacy and appropriateness of information sharing amongst key stakeholders (government and non-government), while avoiding issues of client mistrust;
- intensify training programmes for professionals, as well as efforts to share lessons learned and best practices from real-case scenarios;
- strengthen policy and practice relating to interventions for female offenders;
- establish criteria that define the duration of the rehabilitation process and its success;
- communicate intervention successes to the public.